Matteo Renzi

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Matteo Renzi
Renzi 2014.png
56th Prime Minister of Italy
Incumbent
Assumed office
22 February 2014
President Giorgio Napolitano
Preceded by Enrico Letta
Secretary of the Democratic Party
Incumbent
Assumed office
15 December 2013
Deputy Lorenzo Guerini
Debora Serracchiani
Preceded by Guglielmo Epifani
President of the Council of European Union
Incumbent
Assumed office
1 July 2014
Preceded by Antonis Samaras
Mayor of Florence
In office
22 June 2009 – 24 March 2014
Preceded by Leonardo Domenici
Succeeded by Dario Nardella
President of Florence Province
In office
14 June 2004 – 22 June 2009
Preceded by Michele Gesualdi
Succeeded by Andrea Barducci
Personal details
Born (1975-01-11) 11 January 1975 (age 39)
Florence, Italy
Political party Democratic Party (2007–present)
The Daisy (2002–2007)
People's Party (1996–2002)
Spouse(s) Agnese Landini (m. 1999)
Children Francesco
Emanuele
Ester
Alma mater University of Florence
Religion Roman Catholicism
Signature

Matteo Renzi (Italian pronunciation: [matˈtɛo ˈrɛntsi]; born 11 January 1975) is an Italian politician who has been Prime Minister of Italy since 22 February 2014, President of the Council of the European Union since 1 July 2014 and the Secretary of the Democratic Party since 15 December 2013.[1][2] He was previously the President of Florence Province from 2004 to 2009 and the Mayor of Florence from 2009 to 2014.[3][4]

At the age of 39, Renzi overtook Benito Mussolini's record as the youngest person to become Prime Minister of Italy since unification in 1861.[5] He is also the first to be elected Prime Minister as a Mayor.

Early life[edit]

Renzi was born in Florence, Tuscany; the second of four children, his father, Tiziano Renzi, was a Christian Democratic municipal councillor in Rignano sull'Arno.[6][7] Renzi grew up in Rignano sull'Arno, but he studied in Florence at the Classical Lyceum Dante Alighieri; during this time he was a scout in the Association of Catholic Guides and Scouts of Italy (AGESCI).[8]

In 1999 he graduated from the University of Florence with a degree in law, having written his thesis on Giorgio La Pira, the former Christian Democratic Mayor of Florence. He then went on to work for the CHIL Srl, a marketing company owned by his family coordinating the sales service of the newspaper La Nazione.[9]

Before entering politics, Renzi was also a football referee in amateur levels and a futsal player.[10][11] In 1994, he participated as a competitor for five consecutive episodes in the television program Wheel of Fortune hosted by Mike Bongiorno, winning 48 million lire.[12]

Early political career[edit]

Renzi announcing the formation of his government.

Renzi's interest in politics began in high school.[13] In 1996 he was one of the founders of the committee in support of Romano Prodi's candidature as Prime Minister in the general election; that same year he joined the Italian People's Party, and became its Provincial Secretary in 1999. In the same year he married Agnese Landini, with whom he had three children.

In 2001 he joined Francesco Rutelli's The Daisy Party, composed by members of the disbanded People's Party. On 13 June 2004 he was elected President of the Province of Florence, with 59% of the vote, as the candidate of the centre-left coalition.[14] In the years as President of the Province, Renzi expressed his ideas against the "political caste", and during his mandate he succeeded in reducing taxes and decreasing the number of Province's employees and managers.[15]

Mayor of Florence[edit]

After five years as the President of the Province Florence, Renzi announced that he would seek election as the Mayor of Florence. On 9 June 2009, Renzi, by now a member of the Democratic Party, won the election with 48% of the vote, compared to 32% for Giovanni Galli.[16] As mayor he halved the number of city councilors, installed 500 free WiFi access points across the city, reduced kindergarten waiting lists by 90%, and increased spending on social welfare programs and schools.[17]

One year after being sworn in as Mayor, and with his popularity in national opinion polls increasing, Renzi organised a public meeting with another young party administrator Debora Serracchiani at the Leopolda station in Florence to discuss Italian politics, after stating that a complete change was also necessary in his party.[18] Others prominent Democratic Party members who aligned themseleves with Renzi's programme were Matteo Ricchetti, President of the Regional Council of Emilia-Romagna, Davide Faraone, a regional councillor from the Sicilian Regional Assembly, and Giuseppe Civati, a prominent member of the Democratic Party in Lombardy and member of the Lombard Regional Council.[19]

Following this public meeting, the Italian media gave Renzi the nickname "il Rottamatore", or "The Scrapper". In 2011, he organized a second meeting, also in Florence, where he wrote down one hundred topics of discussion. During this time he began to be strongly criticised by other members of his party closer to the then-Secretary Pier Luigi Bersani, after his suggestion that Italian politicians of the same generation as then-Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi should retire.

In September 2012, Renzi announced that he would seek to lead the centre-left coalition in the 2013 general election; the other four candidates were Pier Luigi Bersani, Secretary of the Democratic Party, Nichi Vendola, Leader of the Left Ecology Freedom, Laura Puppato, a Democratic Deputy from Veneto and Bruno Tabacci, Leader of the Democratic Centre.[20] After the first round of the December election, Renzi gained 35.5% of the vote, finishing second behind Bersani and qualifying for the second ballot. Renzi eventually gained a total of 39% of the vote, against Bersani's 61%.[21]

During the subsequent campaign in the 2013 election in March, Renzi backed Bersani by organising large public rallies in Florence, but come the election the Democratic Party only gained 25.5% of the vote, despite opinion polls placing the party at almost 30%.

In April during the elections for the President of the Republic, Renzi caused a minor controversy by openly criticising the candidacies of both Franco Marini and Anna Finocchiaro, two long-standing members of his Democratic Party.[22][23]

Party Secretary[edit]

Matteo Renzi in 2013.

Following the resignation of Pier Luigi Bersani in April 2013, Renzi stood a second time for the position of Secretary of the Democratic Party; he was supported by a number of his former political opponents, such as former Party Secretaries Walter Veltroni and Dario Franceschini, Deputy Marina Sereni, MEP David Sassoli and Turin Mayor Piero Fassino.[24][25] Other supporters of his included Deputies like Gianni Dal Moro, Francesco Sanna, Francesco Boccia, Lorenzo Basso and Enrico Borghi, all of whom were considered close to Prime Minister Enrico Letta.[26]

The other two candidates for Party Secretary were Gianni Cuperlo, Member of the Chamber of Deputies and former Secretary of the Italian Communist Youth Federation, and Giuseppe Civati, a Deputy from Lombardy and former supporter of Renzi. In the December leadership election, Renzi was elected with 68% of the popular vote, compared to 18% for Gianni Cuperlo and 14% for Giuseppe Civati. He therefore became the new Secretary of the Democratic Party and the centre-left's prospective candidate for Prime Minister.

Throughout January and February 2014 there were multiple reports of persistent leadership tensions between Renzi and Prime Minister Enrico Letta, who had been the Deputy Secretary under Bersani, with many claiming that Renzi was pressuring Letta to resign in his favour. On 12 February Letta publicly demanded that Renzi make his position clear, and Renzi subsequently called a meeting of the Democratic Party leadership for the following evening. Just before the meeting took place, Renzi publicly called on Letta to resign and allow him to form a new government.[27] Letta initially resisted the demand, but following a vote on Renzi's proposal during the meeting, which Letta did not attend, he announced that he would tender his resignation as Prime Minister on 14 February.[28]

Under Renzi's leadership, the Democratic Party officially joined the Party of European Socialists (PES) as a full-time member on 28 February.[29]

Prime Minister[edit]

On 13 February 2014, following tensions between Prime Minister Enrico Letta and Renzi, Giorgio Napolitano removed Letta as Prime Minister the following day. The Democratic Party leadership voted heavily in favour of backing Renzi's call for "a new government, a new phase and a radical programme of reform". Minutes after the Party backed the Renzi proposal by 136 votes to 16, with two abstentions, Palazzo Chigi – the official residence of the Prime Minister – announced that Letta would be going to the Quirinale on Friday to tender his resignation to President Giorgio Napolitano.

In an earlier speech, Renzi had paid tribute to Letta, saying the meeting was not intended to put him "on trial". But, without directly proposing himself as the next Prime Minister, he said the Eurozone's third-largest economy urgently needed "a new phase" and "radical programme" to push through badly-needed reforms. The motion he put forward made clear "the necessity and urgency of opening a new phase with a new executive". Speaking to party leaders, Renzi said Italy was "at a crossroads" and faced either holding fresh elections or a new government without a return to the polls.[30] On 14 February, President Napolitano accepted Letta's resignation from the office of Prime Minister.[31]

Following Letta's resignation, Renzi formally received the task of forming a new government from President Napolitano on 17 February.[32] Renzi held several days of talks with party leaders, all of which he broadcast live on the internet, before unveiling his Cabinet on 21 February, which contained members of his Democratic Party, the New Centre-Right, the Union of the Centre and the Civic Choice. His Cabinet is Italy's youngest government to date, with an average age of 47.[33] In addition, it is also the first in which the number of female ministers is equal to the number of male ministers, excluding the Prime Minister.[34][35]

The following day Renzi was sworn in as Prime Minister, becoming the youngest Prime Minister in the history of Italy.[36] His rise to become Prime Minister was widely seen as a sign of much-needed generational change, and at the time he took office he enjoyed by far the highest approval rating of any politician in the country.[37]

On 25 February the government won the vote of confidence with 169 votes in the Senate and 378 in the Chamber of Deputies.[38]

Domestic policy[edit]

On 11 March, the Chamber of Deputies approved Renzi's flagship electoral reform law, a law that would see Italy's voting system overhauled and also significantly reform the Italian Senate.[39] Several days later he approved the auctioning of a large number of luxury cars that were used to transport heads of state, as he felt they were an unnecessary use of government money. The cars included nine Maseratis, two Jaguars, and various other cars such as BMWs and Alfa Romeos. Out of the 1500 cars put up for sale, 170 sold immediately over eBay.[40]

In April, as part of his industrial reforms, Renzi forced the chief executives of Italy's biggest state-owned companies, including Eni, Terna, Finmeccanica, Enel and Poste Italiane, to resign.[41] He subsequently appointed women to the majority of new positions, making it the first time any woman had served as a chief executive of a state-owned company in Italy.[41]

Due to his ambitious reforms that provided for the abolition of the Senate, the increase of powers of the Prime Minister and a new electoral law,[42][43] Renzi was accused, by numerous politicians and constitutionalists like Stefano Rodotà or Fausto Bertinotti, to be an authoritarian leader who wants to reduce democracy.[44][45][46]

On 3 September during a press conference after the Council of Ministers' reunion, Renzi announced an online consultation with students, teachers and common citizens, ahead of the school reform promoted by the Education Minister Stefania Giannini.[47][48]

Foreign affairs[edit]

Europe[edit]

On 2 March 2014, following Russian military intervention in Ukraine, Renzi accused President Vladimir Putin of having committed "an unacceptable violation".[49][50] On 19 March, during a speech in the Chamber of Deputies, Renzi stated that the Crimean status referendum was illegal and that the G8 countries must start cooperating to solve the crisis and prevent a return to the Cold War.[51]

On 4 and 5 June, he subsequently participated in the G7 summit in Brussels, the first one held after the suspension of Russia from the G8 following the annexation of Crimea in March.[52][53]

On 15 March Renzi met in Paris the President of the French Republic, François Hollande; the two leaders agreed in starting a common economic policy focused not only on the austerity measures imposed by the European Union but also on more flexible policies to promote the economic growth in the EU.[54][55]

On 17 March he had a meeting in Berlin with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, with whom Renzi talked about the important reforms that his government planned to approve in Italy and in the European Union.[56]

On 1 April, the Italian Prime Minister went to London where he met his British counterpart David Cameron; the leader of the United Kingdom stated that the reforms planned by Renzi were "ambitious" and that together they will change the EU.[57][58] On the same day Renzi met also the former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, who is considered an example and an inspiration by the Italian leader.[59]

On 1 August Renzi officially proposed the Italian Foreign Minister, Federica Mogherini, as the new High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, in the European Commission led by Jean-Claude Juncker, former Prime Minister of Luxembourg.[60][61]

On 28 August, after the Russian military intervention in East Ukraine, Matteo Renzi phoned to Vladimir Putin asking him to stop the "intolerable escalation" and to reach a peace agreement with the Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to stop the pro-Russian conflict in that regions.[62]

On 4 and 5 September Renzi participated in the NATO summit in Wales; before the official start of the summit, he had a discussion with the Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, US President Barack Obama and the other three leaders of the European G4, to discuss the crisis with Russia.[63] This summit was the first after the Russian military intervention in Ukraine and the offensive by the Islamic State of the Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.[64]

United States[edit]

Matteo Renzi with the President of the United States Barack Obama.

On 27 March Matteo Renzi met the President of the United States, Barack Obama, during his Presidential trip in Rome, where he met also Pope Francis and the President of Italy, Giorgio Napolitano.[65] Obama said that he remained impressed by the reforms that the Italian government wants to undertake.[66][67] The US President is considered by Renzi an example for his policy.[68]

Africa[edit]

On 4 March Matteo Renzi went to Tunis where he had a bilateral meeting with the Prime Minister of Tunisia, Mustapha Ben Jaafar. With Jaafar Renzi discussed about the problem of the illegal immigration to Italy from the coasts of North Africa.[69]

On 19 July Matteo Renzi started his Presidential trip in Africa, meeting the President of Mozambique, Armando Guebuza.[70] Renzi signed with Guebuza some economic pacts to create investments by the Italian government-onwned oil company Eni in the African country for 50 bilion dollars.[71][72][73]

On 20 July he visited the Republic of Congo where he met the President Denis Sassou Nguesso,[74] with whom Renzi signed a cooperation for the extraction of oil in the country.[72][75] Some journalists criticized the meeting with Sassou Nguesso, who is considered one of the worst and more corrupted dictators of Africa.[76] On the following day Renzi met the President of Angola, José Eduardo dos Santos, in Luanda.[77][78] During the visit Renzi placed a wreath in the mausoleum of the 1st Angolan President Agostinho Neto.[79]

On 24 July, under the direction of the Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini, the Italian government has worked for the release of Mariam Ibrahim, a Sudanese woman sentenced to death for being Christian. After some weeks of imprisonment, thank to the good relations between Sudan and Italy, Mrs. Ibrahim was finally allowed to fly to Italy on a government plane.[80][81]

Middle East[edit]

On 2 August Matteo Renzi met Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, President of Egypt, in Cairo, with whom talked about the Israel-Gaza conflict. Renzi stated that Italy will support the Egyptian truce proposal;[82][83] moreover the two leaders asked an immediate cease-fire and the beginning of the peace treaties.[84] Renzi was the first Western world leader to visit Egypt after el-Sisi election as President.

On 20 August Renzi visited Iraq, during the insurgency of the Islamic State.[85] The Italian Prime Minister met in Baghdad the Head of the State Fuad Masum, the Prime Minister designated Haider al-Abadi and his predecessor Nouri al-Maliki.[86] On the same day Renzi went to Erbil to met the President of the Iraqi Kurdistan Mas'ud Barzani and the Prime Minister Nechervan Barzani.[87] On the same day the Italian Parliament approved the proposal to armed the Peshmerga soldiers who were fighting against the Islamic State of the Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.[88]

Asia[edit]

Renzi with the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam Nguyễn Phú Trọng, in Hanoi.

On 6 June Matteo Renzi met in Rome the Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzō Abe. Abe congratulates Renzi for the economic and constitutional reforms promised by the Italian government. The two leaders also discussed about the relations with China and the stability of the East Asia area.[89]

On 9 June, Renzi travelled to Hanoi, Vietnam to meet with the President Trương Tấn Sang the Prime Minister Nguyễn Tấn Dũng and the General Secretary of the Communist Party Nguyễn Phú Trọng to sign economic treaties worth some 5 billion US dollars.[90][91] He was the first Italian Prime Minister to officially visit Vietnam since 1973, when diplomacy first began between Italy and North Vietnam.[92][93] During the visit Renzi placed a wreath in the mausoleum of the former North Vietnamese President Ho Chi Minh.[94]

On 11 June Renzi met Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing, who congratulated him for the "important reforms" undertaken by his Government.[95] Xi also stated that China would continue cooperation with Italy ahead of Expo 2015 in Milan.[96][97] On the following day he met in Astana the President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev,[98] with whom Renzi talked about the withdrawal of the Italian troops from Afghanistan.[99]

Elections[edit]

Matteo Renzi speaks with journalists in Brussels.

2014 European election[edit]

In the European Parliament election held on 25 May 2014, the first national election Renzi had faced since becoming Prime Minister, his Democratic Party (PD) won 40.8% of the vote with 11,203,231 votes, becoming by far the largest party in the country with 31 MEPs.[100] The PD won the most votes of any single party across the whole of the European Union, and overtook Germany's Christian Democratic Union to become the largest parliamentary group.[101]

The Democratic Party's score was the best result for an Italian party in a nationwide election since the 1958 general election, when the Christian Democracy won 42.4% of the vote.

Thanks to the good electoral result, Renzi succeeded in nominated the Italian Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini as new High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, after the British Catherine Ashton.[102]

Political views[edit]

Renzi has regularly advocated for a generational replacement of the current Italian ruling class. He also supports various battles to reduce the cost of politics, including the practical elimination of one of the two houses of the Italian Parliament, the abolition of public financing for political parties, the abolition of annuities, direct election of politicians by citizens, and the deletion of state contributions to political party newspapers.[103] Renzi has also in the past stated that he is in favour of civil partnerships and that, from a political perspective, marriage should not be viewed as a sacrament.[104]

Moreover under Renzi's secretariat, the Democratic Party took a strong stance in favour of constitutional reform and of a new electoral law, on the road toward a two-party system.

Anyway it is not an easy task to find the exact political trend represented by Renzi and his supporters, who have been known as Renziani. The nature of Renzi's progressivism is a matter of debate and has been linked both to liberalism and populism.[105][105][106] According to Maria Teresa Meli of Corriere della Sera, Renzi "pursues a precise model, borrowed from the Labour Party and Bill Clinton's Democratic Party", comprising "a strange mix (for Italy) of liberal policy in the economic sphere and populism. This means that, on one side, he will attack the privileges of trade unions, especially of the CGIL, which defends only the already protected, while, on the other, he will sharply attack the vested powers, bankers, Confindustria and a certain type of capitalism."[107]

Renzi has occasionally been compared to former British Prime Minister Tony Blair for his political views.[108] Renzi himself has previously claimed to be as supporter of Blair's ideology of the Third Way, regarding an objective to synthesise liberal economics and left-wing social policies.[109][110]

Personal life[edit]

Matteo Renzi is married to a teacher, Agnese Landini, with whom he has two sons, Francesco and Emanuele, and a daughter, Ester.[111] Renzi is a regular Mass-goer and was active in a Catholic branch of the Scouts.[112]

Moreover Renzi is a supporter of ACF Fiorentina, the football team of Florence, his hometown.[113]

Cabinet[edit]

The Renzi Cabinet is the 63rd Cabinet of the Italian Republic and was sworn in on 22 February 2014.

The Cabinet is composed of members of the Democratic Party (PD), New Centre-Right (NCD), Civic Choice (SC), the Union of the Centre (UdC) and three independents. The Cabinet is Italy's youngest government to date, with an average age of 47.[33] In addition, it is also the first in which the number of female ministers is equal to the number of male ministers, excluding the Prime Minister.[34][35]

Ministry First
(22 February 2014)
Party
Prime Minister Matteo Renzi Democratic Party
Minister of the Interior Angelino Alfano New Centre-Right
Minister of Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini Democratic Party
Minister of Economy and Finances Pier Carlo Padoan Independent
Minister of Defence Roberta Pinotti Democratic Party
Minister of Justice Andrea Orlando Democratic Party
Minister of Economic Development Federica Guidi Independent
Minister of Labour Giuliano Poletti Independent
Minister of Infrastructure and Transport Maurizio Lupi New Centre-Right
Minister of Agriculture Maurizio Martina Democratic Party
Minister of Education Stefania Giannini Civic Choice
Minister of Health Beatrice Lorenzin New Centre-Right
Minister of the Environment Gian Luca Galletti Union of the Centre
Minister of Culture Dario Franceschini Democratic Party
Minister of Regional Affairs Maria Carmela Lanzetta Democratic Party
Minister of Constitutional Affairs Maria Elena Boschi Democratic Party
Minister of Public Administration Marianna Madia Democratic Party
Secretary of the Council of Ministers Graziano Delrio Democratic Party

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  83. ^ Renzi e' al Cairo, tra crisi di Gaza e rapporti bilaterali
  84. ^ Gaza, Israele valuta ritiro unilaterale. Hamas: “Soldato ucciso da bombe”
  85. ^ Iraq, Iran pronto ad agire contro l'Isis se verranno revocate le sanzioni sul nucleare: ma da Teheran arriva la smentita
  86. ^ Renzi in Iraq: "L'Europa deve essere qui" "Vinceremo battaglia contro terrorismo"
  87. ^ Visita di Renzi in Iraq
  88. ^ Sì del Parlamento alle armi ai peshmerga. Renzi ai curdi: "Insieme batteremo i terroristi"
  89. ^ Matteo Renzi incontra Shinzo Abe: Tokyo cerca “solidarietà” contro Pechino
  90. ^ Storica visita di Renzi in Vietnam, prima volta di un premier italiano
  91. ^ Renzi ad Hanoi: obiettivo interscambio da 5 miliardi di dollari
  92. ^ Renzi e la missione Asia, tappa ad Hanoi
  93. ^ Renzi in Vietnam, la prima volta di premier italiano
  94. ^ Renzi in Vietnam, le foto anche sui social network
  95. ^ Renzi-Xi Jinping, un altro idillio
  96. ^ Renzi in Cina: dobbiamo aprirci di più
  97. ^ Renzi incontra Xi Jiping: costruiamo nuove occasioni di collaborazione
  98. ^ Mr. Renzi va in Kazakistan
  99. ^ Cosa è andato a fare Renzi in Kazakistan
  100. ^ Definitive results in elezioni.interno.it.
  101. ^ Scherer, Steve (26 May 2014). "Renzi's triumph in EU vote gives mandate for Italian reform". Reuters. Retrieved 26 May 2014. 
  102. ^ Nomine Ue, Renzi la spunta: Mogherini è Alto Rappresentante agli esteri
  103. ^ Primarie Pd, Fassina contro Renzi: copia le proposte di Bersani
  104. ^ Matteo Renzi: Il matriomonio è per tutti, o quasi
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  107. ^ "Ma Renzi pensa che il premier punti a un futuro in Europa". Archiviostorico.corriere.it. Retrieved 2014-05-17. 
  108. ^ Tony Blair: "Renzi mio erede, con la sua corsa alle riforme cambierà l'Italia"
  109. ^ Intervista a Matteo Renzi di Claudio Sardo
  110. ^ Irpef, Imu e la Terza via di Gutgeld, “guru” economico di Renzi
  111. ^ Thubron, Dario (21 February 2014). "Matteo Renzi: from Florence mayor to Italy PM". AFP. Retrieved 22 February 2014. 
  112. ^ "Italy’s young leader captures politics of Pope Francis". Boston Globe. Retrieved 3 June 2014. 
  113. ^ Fiorentina: Renzi-Della Valle scatenati in tribuna.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Michele Gesualdi
President of Florence Province
2004–2009
Succeeded by
Andrea Barducci
Preceded by
Leonardo Domenici
Mayor of Florence
2009–2014
Succeeded by
Dario Nardella
Preceded by
Enrico Letta
Prime Minister of Italy
2014–present
Incumbent
Party political offices
Preceded by
Guglielmo Epifani
Secretary of the Democratic Party
2013–present
Incumbent
Order of precedence
Preceded by
Laura Boldrini
as President of the Chamber of Deputies
Order of Precedence of Italy
as President of the Council of Ministers
Succeeded by
Gaetano Silvestri
as President of the Constitutional Court