When the inconclusive February 2013 election left Italy with a hung parliament - with the centre-left Partito Democratico (PD) in charge of lower house and Mr Berlusconi’s PdL in charge of the Senate – it was clear Italian politics were not going to settle before a long time.  With disillusionment at its height, the protest movement led by comedian Beppe Grillo won 25 per cent of the vote. A temporary leadership by the PD’s Mr Pier-Luigi Bersani was set to make time for further decisions.


After Giorgio Napolitano’s re-election as president in April 2013 - the first second term for such a role in the history of the Italian republic - Pier Luigi Bersani stepped down from his post of PD leader to make space for the younger Enrico Letta. A former “democristiano”, a Christian Democrat, Mr Letta headed a troubled grand coalition made of the PD, the PdL and Mr Monti’s centrist Civic Choice.


His government was criticised from the start for the Prime Minister’s family’s ties with one of Berlusconi’s most loyal allies, his uncle Gianni Letta.  In a potential blow to Mr Letta’s coalition, Italy’s highest court upheld a prison sentence for tax fraud for Silvio Berlusconi in August 2013. Even though unlikely to be arrested because of his age, the 78-year-old received his first definitive conviction, which cannot be appealed against.


After weeks of threats and tension between the PD and the PdL, Mr Berlusconi backed down from destroying the coalition.  As several of his senior PdL colleagues refused to follow him, Mr Berlusconi was eventually expelled from parliament by the Senate in November 2013 over his conviction for tax fraud, losing his immunity from arrest.


The latest developments arrived on February 13th, when a PD meeting passed a motion of no confidence in the prime minister from their same party, Enrico Letta. Accused of not having done enough to rescue Italy’s stagnant economy, Mr Letta decided to step aside in favour of his party’s new leader, Matteo Renzi, chosen by PD voters last year to guide the Italian left.


Known as “il rottamatore”, the scrapper, for his disdain of the old political class, Mr Renzi had been criticising the performance of Mr Letta’s government for months. At 39, he is Italy's youngest-ever leader.


The Mayor of Florence was sworn in as Italian prime minister on Friday 21st February. He met Mr Napolitano, the Italian president, one day earlier with his cabinet list. Mr Renzi announced his arrival to the meeting with a tweet: “Arrivo, arrivo #lavoltabuona” (“Getting there, getting there #abouttime”) and promised to bring back “hope” to Italy by overhauling the jobs market and the tax and education systems within four months. Announcing his team he said: "It's a government that will start to work from tomorrow morning."


Half of Mr Renzi’s ministers are women – an unprecedented event in Italian politics. In line with his “scrapping” motto, Mr Renzi chose a number of new faces for his Coalition cabinet. Aside from a few right-wing members (Angelino Alfano at the Interior, Beatrice Lorenzin for Health and Maurizio Lupi for Transport and Infrastructure), and Dario Franceschini (Culture) and Andrea Orlando (Justice), all other members of cabinet have been ministers for the first time.


Two of them, like Mr Renzi, are not yet 40: Marianna Madia (Public Administration) and Maria Elena Boschi (Reforms and Parliament Relations). Federica Mogherini, 40, is the new Foreign Minister, while Stefania Giannini, Federica Guidi, Roberta Pinotti and Maria Carmela Lanzetta will respectively be in charge of Education, Economical Development, Defence and Regions.


Pier Carlo Padoan, from the Italian Office of National Statistics, will be in charge of the Economy while Giuliano Poletti, in charge of cooperative organization Legacoop, will be in charge of Work and Welfare.


However, despite recently gaining a confidence vote in both the Italian chambers of parliament, Mr Renzi’s youthful cabinet has not yet convinced Italy’s exhausted voters. Journalist Aldo Cazzullo wrote on Il Corriere Della Sera, Italy’s main newspaper: “Alone, youth is not enough. Being young is not a fault, like it sometimes appears to be in Italy, but it’s not a virtue either. Changing generation is not just a matter of age: it means doing new things, or doing old things in a different way.


“Mr Renzi takes charge the old way. Not with elections, but with a Palace move not unlike the one he was condemning months ago.” According to Mr Cazzullo, to be “forgiven from such sin”, Mr Renzi needs to rebuild his bond with the public. As Mr Renzi prepares to threaten Beppe Grillo’s Five Star Movement’s electorate with new attitudes and reforms, he will face stark opposition in the Italian parliament and in the population’s growing disinterest in politics.


What seems certain is that the prime minister now faces a challenge: “The challenge to give a chance not only to his lucky young colleagues, but to those left to the outskirts of the Italian public life,” writes Mr Cazzullo.


Carolina Are is co-founder and the editor at The Charta read her bio and letter here. (@carolina_are)


The Mayor of Florence Matteo Renzi was appointed Italian Prime Minister on February 21st , becoming the third un-elected Italian leader since 2011. Mr Renzi’s rise as Italy’s Prime Minister is yet another chapter of the confused, dramatic post-Berlusconi era of Italian politics. For outsiders, Italy’s political situation is one you struggle to keep track of. This month, The Charta gives you a recap of the past four years of government.


Mr Silvio Berlusconi resigned in 2011, amid allegations including fraud and abuse of authority, after having failed to gain a full majority in the Chamber of Deputies during a budget vote. Back then, Italy accepted Mario Monti’s technocratic government to quicken the exit from years of economic crisis.


But after new laws, €33bn (£27bn; $43bn) of spending cuts and credit downgrading, Mr Monti’s government lost a confidence vote in December 2012, when Mr Berlusconi’s Partito della Libertà (PdL) withdrew its support from the coalition.

PD's Matteo Renzi, the Mayor of Florence and now Prime Minister of Italy (pd_er on Flickr)



by C. Are