Paolo Gentiloni, Italy’s foreign minister, has been chosen to replace Matteo Renzi as prime minister amid signs of a quick solution to the political crisis that has convulsed the eurozone’s third-largest economy during the past week.
After three days of consultations with parliamentary leaders of all stripes, Sergio Mattarella, Italy’s president, on Sunday summoned Gentiloni to the presidential palace in central Rome and asked him to form a government.
“I consider this a high honor, which I will carry out with dignity and responsibility,” Gentiloni said, according to the Financial Times.
Late on Saturday, Mattarella had emphasized his desire to pick a new prime minister quickly, saying in a statement that Italy needed a “fully functional government within a short timeframe” in order to meet its domestic, European and international commitments.
Italy was plunged into political uncertainty six days ago after voters rejected a set of constitutional reforms championed by Renzi by an overwhelming 20 percentage point margin in a referendum on which the 41-year old mayor of Florence had staked his tenure in office. Renzi resigned on Wednesday, triggering the talks held by Mattarella.
Mr Gentiloni suggested that Mattarella had asked Renzi to remain for a second term in office, but was turned down by the 41-year old mayor of Florence. Gentiloni said Renzi’s decision deserved “respect from all”.
Early on Sunday, Renzi — whose government lasted nearly three years — wrote on his Facebook page that he offered Gentiloni “best wishes and all my support” in office.
The urgency of installing a new government increased on Friday after the European Central Bank rejected a bid by Monte dei Paschi di Siena, the country’s third-largest bank, for extra time to raise capital among private investors.
The ECB’s decision has increased the chances that the Italian government may have to use state funds to rescue one of its most prized financial institutions, which has been dogged by non-performing loans. The board of MPS was expected to meet later on Sunday.
The choice of Gentiloni, who played a key role in talks to establish a government of national unity in war-torn Libya, would be likely to allow Pier Carlo Padoan, the country’s finance minister and another contender for the top job, to stay in his current role in order to manage the banking troubles.