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Renzi says not interested in unseating Letta

But PD chief holds premier's feet to fire over 18-month deadline

10 February, 11:22
Renzi says not interested in unseating Letta (ANSA) - Rome, February 10 - The head of the center-left Democratic Party (PD) on Monday insisted he had no intention of replacing Premier Enrico Letta outside election, but remained critical of the government's slow progress. "None of us have ever asked to take over the government," said Matteo Renzi.

"But Letta committed to doing certain things within 18 months, and we're more than 10 months in. The premier has duties and honors, and the task of telling us what's worked and what hasn't". Renzi, the energetic 39-year-old mayor of Florence, has been harrying the PD-led government to accelerate on much-needed reforms since winning a party leadership primary with a landslide in December.

Letta has set his executive an 18-month deadline to pass a new election law and other reforms aimed at making Italy easier to govern and reducing the cost of the country's political apparatus when it was sworn in last year.

Renzi also pointed out at a party meeting Thursday that, 10 months into that, little has been achieved.

The PD, the biggest party in parliament, will decide on its position with regards to the government at what is set to be a crunch meeting on February 20.

Letta's government has failed to find stability despite surviving the defection of Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right Forza Italia (FI) party in November, shortly before the ex-premier was ejected from parliament following a binding tax-fraud conviction.

There has been speculation that Renzi could take over as premier, even though he has always said he wanted to take the helm of government after winning elections and not as a result of a pact between parties like the one that saw Letta come to power after last year's inconclusive general election.

Another possibility is that Italy will return to the polls for early elections later this year.

The hypothesis of replacing cabinet members with loyalists to Renzi, something the junior partners in the ruling coalition have been calling for in order to reflect the new political balance of power after the PD primary, appears to be fading.

"I will never say I want seats for ministers and undersecretaries," said Renzi Monday. "I won't make a grocery list".