Italy’s Gentiloni Summoned by President, Could Become Premier

Updated on
  • Foreign affairs minister seen as successor to Matteo Renzi
  • Renzi said earlier he had resigned ‘for real’ after vote

Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni has been summoned to a meeting with Italy’s head of state and is expected to become the country’s prime minister.

The office of President Sergio Mattarella said in an e-mailed statement that he had called Gentiloni, 62, to a meeting at the presidential palace at 12.30 p.m. Rome time on Sunday. La Repubblica newspaper said he was in line to lead the new government.

Paolo Gentiloni

Photographer: Marc Hill/Bloomberg

Outgoing premier Matteo Renzi said earlier in a post on Facebook that he has moved out of the prime minister’s residence in Rome, having resigned “for real” after his defeat in a Dec. 4 constitutional referendum.

Gentiloni, a former communications minister, is a descendant of Italian nobility. As foreign minister, he campaigned to persuade European Union partners to help share the burden of migrants crossing the Mediterranean to Italy and Greece, and co-chaired talks on the Libyan crisis with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

Italy’s Challenges

Mattarella, pledging on Saturday to act to resolve the government crisis quickly, had said Italy “needs a government fully exercising its role soon,” adding that it faces challenges domestically and at the European and global level.

Italy’s political establishment is under pressure to end the government crisis after the European Central Bank decided on Friday not to allow Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA to extend a deadline on a 5 billion-euro capital increase, fueling worries that political instability could weigh on the troubled banking sector.

If appointed in time, Gentiloni will take part in the EU summit in Brussels on Thursday. Italy will chair the Group of Seven wealthy nations from January, and host a summit of European Union leaders in March to mark the 60th anniversary of the 1957 signing of the Treaty of Rome. That accord eventually led to the creation of the EU.

In his night-time post on Facebook, Renzi said he had returned to his family home in Pontassieve, Tuscany, and that he had kept his promise to quit: “I had said I would, and I did.” Renzi wished his successor the best of luck. But he signaled he would prepare a comeback. “To millions of Italians who want a future of ideas and hopes for our country, I say that we will not tire in trying for a new start,” he wrote.

Renzi’s Support

As premier, Gentiloni would have the support of Renzi, still a voice to be reckoned with as leader of the Democratic Party, which is the biggest party in parliament. Renzi formally handed in his resignation on Wednesday after losing the referendum on reform of the Senate.

Gentiloni’s tasks would include guiding a change to the country’s electoral law ahead of early elections likely in the first half of next year. Luigi Zanda, chief whip in the Senate for Renzi’s Democratic Party, said after talks with Mattarella that the aim for his group was to “have elections as soon as possible.”

Mainstream parties want to change the electoral law because it is now different for each house, and it gives an automatic majority to the leading party in the lower house. They fear that the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, which wants a referendum on Italy’s membership of the euro area, could be the winner under this system.

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