Can Gentiloni navigate Italy through the crisis?

Paolo Gentiloni, Italy's foreign minister in the outgoing government, will succeed Matteo Renzi as prime minister. Italian President Sergio Mattarella appointed the new head of government on Sunday. Gentiloni must carefully steer Italy through 2017, which may well hold complicated new elections in store for the country, commentators predict.

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Irish Examiner (IE) /

Eurosceptics will soon be in charge

A weak technocratic government will not be able to put Italy on the road to reform, The Irish Examiner fears:

“Renzi was the pro-EU establishment’s best - and perhaps last - hope for delivering the growth-enhancing reforms needed to secure Italy’s long-term future in the Eurozone. Muddling through with a weak technocratic-led government amounts to waiting for an accident to happen. And, with the far-right Northern League and former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia also aligned against the euro, an anti-euro government is likely to come to power at some point - perhaps after the next general election, which is due by 2018 (but could be held as early as next spring). Then all bets will be off.”

La Stampa (IT) /

Timing of fresh elections unclear

The key question is how long the Gentiloni cabinet can survive, La Stampa points out:

“Will this be a yoghurt government whose expiry date is in just a few weeks' time? Or will it hold out as long as it has the necessary votes in parliament? This question is still in the background for now but it will soon become urgent despite Gentiloni's loyalty to Renzi. It conceals an inevitable contradiction, because there is no such thing in nature as a prime minister who doesn't want to continue his mandate. But the leader of the PD [Renzi] wants new elections as soon as possible. Renzi's preferred date is June 4, Whit Sunday. Will Gentiloni be willing to step down that soon? And above all, will President Mattarella deem it appropriate to dissolve parliament and have the G7 summit which takes place at the end of May in Italy, presided over by Italy, be led by a government that has resigned - in the midst of the election campaign?”

Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

Renzi planning a triumphant return

Gentiloni's nomination is a coup orchestrated by ex-PM Matteo Renzi, the Süddeutsche Zeitung is sure:

“Renzi is not planning to leave politics, as he once promised he would do if he lost the constitutional referendum. No sooner has he stepped down than he is already preparing for the next elections. And they will no doubt take place before the scheduled end of the legislature period - as early as 2017. In the meantime an associate has now moved into Palazzo Chigi [the official residence of the Italian PM], who has neither the ambition nor the charisma required to challenge Renzi for the post. But will that be enough to stage a triumphant comeback? Old scores are being settled in the party Renzi leads. Some members never liked Renzi, others consider him a liability after the defeat. Nevertheless all the polls show that no other politician in the country is more popular than he is. And his ratings have only gone up in recent days after he stuck to his guns and resigned.”

El Mundo (ES) /

Caretaker prime minister in difficult times

Italy's chronic ungovernability is especially worrying in these uncertain times, writes El Mundo:

“In the midst of the wave of populism that is sweeping the Old Continent Gentiloni must tread very carefully if he wants to avoid mistakes that would just blow more wind into the sails of comedian Beppe Grillo's M5S or the xenophobic Lega Nord. Insecurity and political instability have become the leitmotif of an EU the very nature of which is at stake in the next two years. The likely elections in Italy and the elections in France and Germany - three pillars of the European project - are under threat from parties whose programmes include the destruction of Europe's values.”

Corriere della Sera (IT) /

Gentiloni must not be Renzi clone

Gentiloni's main task will be to protect the political class from any further damage, writes Corriere della Sera:

“Gentiloni must now show that he is not an avatar of Renzi (something he is already being accused of) and put together a team that is up to the tasks expected of it. Parties and splinter parties are already voicing demands that must be roundly rejected. The political class has already been discredited enough. There is no need to discredit it further with more mistakes. It would have been better if the government that must guide the country towards a new election had broader support in parliament than just the majority that already existed before the crisis. But the opposition's desire to capitalise on the result of the referendum prevented this.”