Less than ten months after being elected, Italy’s Prime Minister Enrico Letta is to officially tender his resignation following a majority vote of no-confidence by his own party.
The move comes after the Democratic Party – the largest party in the ruling coalition – strongly backed leader Matteo Renzi’s call for a new government.
President Giorgio Napolitano is now likely to ask Renzi, who is the Mayor of Florence and current Democratic Party secretary, to form what will be Italy’s third administration in a year.
“I believe we are at a crossroads,” said Renzi. “Italy requires radical change, which will be enforced by the Democratic Party, or not at all.”
Letta had previously been criticised by Renzi and his backers for being slow to take action on unemployment, which is at its highest level in 40 years and Italy’s shrinking economy.
Mayor of Rome, Ignazio Marino, supported the outcome of the vote.
“What has been decided by a large majority today is probably the best solution, considering it’s necessary to intervene in a country where people and local authorities need immediate answers,” he said, adding “I think I know a lot about this because I manage the largest city in Italy.”
Giuseppe Civati, one of 12 out of 148 voters who didn’t back Renzi said a political choice had been made.
“One thing I don’t accept is the talk of a forced choice,” he said. “It’s actually a political choice to vote against Enrico Letta.”
Renzi says “outsize ambition” is needed to pull Italy “out of the mire” and believes the new government will last a full term until 2018.
But Letta’s coalition partner, the New Centre Right party doesn’t share this optimism, saying it’s “not taking anything for granted” and will demand concessions on policy.