Italy’s Prime Minister-designate Matteo Renzi spent Wednesday doing the rounds of key players in the political jigsaw as he tries to put together a new government.
The mayor of Florence and leader of the centre-left Democratic Party says he expects the coalition to be in place before Monday, when a formal vote of confidence is due in parliament.
He said he expected to give President Giorgio Napolitano his formal acceptance of the mandate to form a government at the weekend.
“I will spend tomorrow (Thursday) drawing up a policy document, which will be very useful for Italy’s presidency of the European Union by presenting various concrete reforms,” Renzi said.
But he would not be drawn on the possible identity of his cabinet, or on rumours that he is having trouble filling key posts.
In a short meeting broadcast live on the internet, the leader of the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement Beppe Grillo launched a blistering attack on the would-be prime minister.
“Grilled by Grillo” might be an appropriate headline after the heated encounter. Renzi, he said, had no credibility.
“These boys come out and say they have a programme. What programme? They don’t even have a clue about the future, (despite their age), they’re older than the elderly. People convicted of crimes occupy the presidency, are kicked out of the Senate, and then they come back with the presidential honour guard,” Grillo told a later news conference.
That was a reference to Silvio Berlusconi, who also met Renzi on Wednesday. The former prime minister said his party would be in opposition, but his tone was conciliatory.
Forza Italia would support individual measures, he added, if they were considered to be good for the country.
Renzi was given a mandate to form a government last weekend after his party forced Enrico Letta to resign last week, following heavy criticism over the slow pace of reforms to Italy’s stagnant economy, still struggling to emerge from its worst postwar slump.
He has promised a radical policy programme with reforms to the electoral and constitutional system, to the labour market, and to the public administration and tax systems within the first four months of taking office.