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Italy has a new Prime Minister - an opera-loving nobleman

Paolo Gentiloni has been asked by President Sergio Mattarella to form a new government.

Image: Hassan Ammar

PAOLO GENTILONI HAS been named as Italy’s new prime minister following reformist leader Matteo Renzi’s resignation in the wake of a crushing referendum defeat.

Gentiloni, who had been Renzi’s foreign minister, was asked by President Sergio Mattarella to form a new government that will guide Italy to elections due by February 2018, a presidency spokesman announced.

Gentiloni, 62, is seen as a close ally of Renzi who is unlikely to get in the way of the outgoing premier’s plans for a political comeback.

Gentiloni now has to put together his own government line up which is expected to be put to a parliamentary confidence vote on Wednesday.

Mattarella had vowed to move quickly to fill the void created by Renzi’s departure, saying the country urgently needed a new administration to handle a string of pressing problems.

Chief among those is a looming crisis in the troubled banking sector and ongoing relief efforts after a series of deadly earthquakes between August and October.

Aged 62, Gentiloni is a former student radical who comes from a well-to-do Roman family with aristocratic roots.

He has long been associated with the Green wing of Italy’s left but has steadily moved towards the centre ground over the course of a long, unspectacular career.

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He was made foreign minister in October 2014, having been plucked from obscurity to replace Federica Mogherini following her appointment as the European Union’s foreign policy chief.

He plays tennis and is an opera buff but friends say he has had little time for leisure activity of late as a workaholic who likes to read his ministerial briefs in full. A descendant of a famous Italian count, he has the right to call himself a noble.

He is widely seen as having done a good job as foreign minister as Italy has played an unusually proactive role on the world stage, notably in relation to Libya, and in building bridges with Iran after the lifting of international sanctions.

© – AFP, 2016

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