Mayor of Florence on course to become leader of Italian centre-left party

Matteo Renzi wins primary to put him on course for leadership of Democratic Party, descendents of Italian Communist Party

Matteo Renzi made the point by naming a new 12-person secretariat, made up of seven women and five men and with an average age of 35. Photograph: EPA/Alessandro Di Meo

Matteo Renzi made the point by naming a new 12-person secretariat, made up of seven women and five men and with an average age of 35. Photograph: EPA/Alessandro Di Meo

Tue, Dec 10, 2013, 01:00


Much as expected, the mayor of Florence, Matteo Renzi, registered an overwhelming success in last Sunday’s “primaries” for the leadership of the centre-left Democratic Party (PD). In a three way contest in which 2.9 million people voted, Mr Renzi polled a massive 67.8 per cent, while his two rivals, Gianni Cuperlo of the party’s “old guard” and far left activist Pippo Civati, polled 18 per cent and 14.2 per cent respectively.

Even if, in the short term, this vote changes little, it could still have a long-term effect on the conformist centre left. Given that it is almost certain that 38-year-old Mr Renzi will now lead the centre-left in any forthcoming general election (next spring or in 2015), last weekend’s vote may herald a radical change of position and personnel for the PDs, the modern-day descendants of the old Italian Communist Party (PCI).

Arguably the most significant aspect of this landslide victory is that it represents a total rout for the party’s ageing “apparatchik” class, embodied by men such as former prime minister Massimo D’Alema and former party leaders Walter Veltroni and Pier Luigi Bersani.


New secretariat
At his first press conference in party headquarters in Rome yesterday, Mr Renzi made the point by naming a new 12-person secretariat, made up of seven women and five men and with an average age of 35.

The most important issue to be resolved concerns Mayor Renzi’s working relationship with his party colleague, prime minister Enrico Letta, who currently heads a complex centre-right and centre-left coalition government. For the time being, Mr Renzi does not seem inclined to withdraw party support from the Letta executive but rather will support the government through to 2015. After that, however, early elections may be the order of the day.