Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta resigns

Enrico Letta Mr Letta had only been in post for 10 months

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Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta has submitted his resignation after his Democratic Party backed a call for a new administration.

Party leader Matteo Renzi, 39, had argued that a change of government was needed to end "uncertainty".

Mr Renzi, who was elected party leader in December, appears poised to be nominated for prime minister.

The announcement has had no impact on financial markets, in contrast with the volatility seen before.

Before heading to President Giorgio Napolitano to resign, Mr Letta thanked everyone who had helped him during the past 10 months as prime minister.

Analysis

Matteo Renzi is a politician in a hurry. He personifies the frustration felt by many Italians at the apparent inability of his country's leaders to deal with Italy's rapid economic decline, which has led to the impoverishment of an ever growing number of families.

He is under 40, charismatic, smart and - in his own words - "hugely ambitious". That is his strength.

But he also has his weaknesses. He has so far had a career only in local politics in his native Florence, and lacks experience in Rome's Byzantine political arena. He has never been elected to parliament and has no popular mandate.

According to opinion polls, most Italians would prefer him not to take over the reins of government.

If he does succeed Mr Letta, he will inherit an uncomfortable and unwieldy coalition including both centre-left and centre-right parties.

Mr Renzi said a new government should take over until the end of the current parliamentary term in 2018.

He accused Mr Letta of a lack of action on improving the economy, with unemployment at its highest level in 40 years and the economy shrinking by 9% in seven years.

The Italian prime minister failed to implement promised reforms of an often corrupt and wasteful bureaucracy coupled with a bloated parliament, says the BBC's David Willey in Rome.

Youth unemployment has worsened and Italians have grown increasingly impatient of the slow pace of reform and the continuing decline of families' income and living standards.

Above all Mr Letta failed to force through a bill that was to change an election law brought in under former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, our correspondent says.

Italian governments

  • Italy has had 61 governments since 1946
  • Centre-right Christian Democrats dominated politics during Cold War
  • Matteo Renzi poised to become third prime minister since Silvio Berlusconi resigned in November 2011

Mr Letta, 47, formed a coalition with the centre-right last year.

Angelino Alfano, leader of a centre-right faction that has been part of Mr Letta's government, gave a guarded welcome to Mr Renzi's plans.

There was no guarantee that an attempt to form a new government under Mr Renzi would work, Mr Alfano said, adding he would not support a new administration whose policies were too left-wing.

There is also no guarantee that he is going to succeed in convincing experienced old political hands that he has the capacity to lead, says our correspondent.

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