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Renzi government has 16 people, half women

Padoan economy minister in lean Italian cabinet

22 February, 16:33
Renzi government has 16 people, half women (By Sandra Cordon and Denis Greenan). (ANSA) - Rome, February 22 - Premier Matteo Renzi's new cabinet is made up of 16 ministers, half of whom are women - the first time parity between the sexes has been achieved in an Italian executive.

Pier Carlo Padoan, chief economist of the OECD, is economy minister, one of the most important posts in the slimmed-down cabinet where the average age is 47 - older than the 39-year-old Renzi, Italy's youngest premier and leader of the centre-left Democratic Party (PD).

At 64, Padoan is the oldest minister Another key member of cabinet sworn in by President Giorgio Napolitano is Angelino Alfano, leader of the junior government partner, the New Centre Right (NCD).

Alfano said he was "happy" to remain as interior minister and agreed to drop the deputy premier portfolio in a cabinet that boasts more than one-quarter fewer members compared with that of Renzi's precedessor, Enrico Letta, who had 21 ministers, including seven women, when he formed his government 10 months ago.

Among Renzi's ministers are a few holdovers from Letta's cabinet, including Beatrice Lorenzin (NCD) as health minister; Maurizio Lupi (NCD) in infrastructure and transport; Dario Franceschini (PD), who will move to the culture portfolio from relations with parliament; and Andrea Orlando (PD), who moves from environment to the justice portfolio.

Graziano Delrio will serve as cabinet under-secretary, a powerful position as he will serve as Renzi's right-hand man.

The newcomers include Marianna Madia - heavily pregnant at the swearing-in - as minister of simplification.

She and Maria Elena Boschi, minister of reform and parliamentary relations, are the youngest in cabinet at 33 years of age.

Other rookie ministers include Federica Mogherini as the new foreign minister, Italy's youngest-ever at 41; Stefania Giannini, in education; Federica Guidi as economic development minister; Roberta Pinotti as the first woman to take the defence portfolio; Maria Carmela Lanzetta in regional affairs and Giuliano Poletti as minister of labour and welfare.

Maurizio Martina becomes agriculture minister and Gianluca Galletti takes over the environment portfolio.

A number of Letta ministers did not make the cut including Emma Bonino, outgoing foreign minister, who voiced her disappointment and surprise in the press, saying she learned she had lost her job from the TV.

Cecile Kyenge, Italy's first black cabinet minister and a Letta appointee who has been the target of racist abuse, much of it from the anti-immigrant Northern League, did not keep her post as integration minister.

Padoan, a technocrat rather than politician, is a former economics professor in Rome who has been deputy secretary-general of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) since June 2007.

He was at a G20 meeting in Australia when Renzi unveiled his team and did not make it back in time for the swearing-in.

Renzi had his first cabinet meeting Saturday and will draft a speech Sunday for confidence votes in the Senate Monday and the House Tuesday, after which the government will be able to start attacking the sweeping reform agenda Renzi has promised.

He faced several conditions in creating his cabinet from junior partner the New Centre Right (NCD).

Alfano, a political veteran, helped to form the NCD as a group of centre-right moderates who split from ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's revived Forza Italia (FI) party when it rejected the ex-premier's bid to scupper Letta after the PD insisted on a Senate ban for the media magnate following a tax-fraud conviction late last year.

A few more details of the newcomers to cabinet: Foreign Affairs - Federica Mogherini (Pd) was first elected to parliament in 2008 and sits on committees including foreign affairs and defence.

Defence - Roberta Pinotti (Pd) is a Senator, former undersecretary of defence, and has served in parliament since 2001 where she promoted a ban on cluster bombs.

Industry - Federica Guidi is a former chair of the Young Entrepreneurs of Confindustria, an industrial employers association.

Agriculture - Maurizio Martina (Pd) was undersecretary of agriculture in Letta's government.

Environment - Gianluca Galletti of the Union of the Centre (UDC) was a secretary of state for education in Letta's government.

Employment and social policies - Giuliano Poletti has worked in local government in his native Imola, and has no party affiliation.

Education, universities and research - Stefania Giannini of ex-premier Mario Monti's Civic Choice (SC) party is a former professor of languages and academic.

Reforms and relations with parliament - Maria Elena Boschi (PD) is a practising lawyer from Florence.

Simplification - Marianna Madia (PD) is the daughter of journalist and actor Stefano Madia and went to Rome's French academy before becoming an expert on labour law and welfare room. She went out with President Napolitano's son Giulio before marrying the father of her upcoming child, film producer Mario Gianani. Regional Affairs - Maria Carmela Lanzetta (PD) is the former mayor of Monasterace in Calabria where she made a name standing up to 'Ndrangheta mafia figures.