Italian PM Renzi resigns, president to consult with parties
ROME: Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi resigned on Wednesday after a bruising referendum loss at the weekend, with most parliamentary factions pushing for an early election in a few months’ time.
The 41-year-old’s decision to quit after less than three years in office dealt a new blow to Western governments still in shock from Britain’s vote to leave the European Union and the election of outsider Donald Trump as U.S. president.
Underscoring the financial risks that heavily indebted Italy faces, Moody’s changed its outlook on the country’s bond rating to negative from stable, saying prospects for much-needed economic reform had shrunk after Italians rejected Renzi’s proposals to revise the constitution and streamline parliament.
Renzi tendered his resignation to President Sergio Mattarella, who said he would consult with political parties to decide the next steps. He asked Renzi to carry on in a caretaker capacity until a solution is found.
After the consultations, which will begin on Thursday at 1700 GMT and end on Saturday afternoon, Mattarella is widely expected to ask a member of Renzi’s cabinet, or a politician from his Democratic Party, to try to form a new government.
Elections are due in 2018 but many politicians are calling for them to be held earlier.
The political crisis sparked by the referendum coincides with a crisis in Italy’s debt-laden banks, especially at its third-biggest lender Monte dei Paschi di Siena (BMPS.MI), which looks likely to require government intervention to survive.
Two sources told Reuters on Tuesday that Renzi’s administration was preparing to take a 2-billion-euro ($2.15-billion) controlling stake in the bank by purchasing junior bonds.
On Wednesday, a Treasury spokesman denied Italy was poised to ask for a loan from the European Stability Mechanism to support its banking sector.