Channel NewsAsia

Italy PM-designate battered in poll as he meets leaders

Italy's PM-designate Matteo Renzi is taking a battering in opinion polls, with Italian voters saying they are unhappy with his grab for power.

ROME: He hasn't even accepted the job of prime minister yet, but Matteo Renzi is already taking a battering in opinion polls, with Italian voters saying they are unhappy with his grab for power.

The 39-year-old said Wednesday that he expects to officially accept the leadership on Saturday, after a round of intense talks with political leaders including former premier Silvio Berlusconi, whose party will be in opposition.

He will then present himself before parliament at the start of next week for a vote of confidence.

But it appears the former Boy Scout has already lost the confidence of many Italian voters, with 65 per cent describing his abrupt ouster of Enrico Letta at the helm of the leftist Democratic Party as a "blow to democracy", according to a poll published Wednesday in La Stampa daily.

The poll found that 49 per cent had "little or no confidence" in a Renzi government, against 46 per cent who were "quite or very" confident.

A separate poll carried out by the Ipsos institute earlier this week showed only 31 per cent of those surveyed thought a Renzi government would be good for the country.

Currently the mayor of Florence, he will become the European Union's youngest prime minister when he takes office.

"After a difficult day and a half of consultations, I am convinced the conditions are in place to do an excellent job," a tired-looking but smiling Renzi said as he wound up the consultations after being nominated prime minister designate on Monday.

"This is a country that has a real possibility of coming out of the crisis, but doesn't just want words of hope from politicians, but concrete plans," he said.

Renzi has promised to overhaul the job market, education and the tax system in his first few months in power in order to get the eurozone's third largest economy moving again -- though critics say the details are sketchy.

The Tuscan politician said he expected to form a coalition made up of his own centre-left Democratic Party (PD), centrists and the small centre-right NCD party.

Berlusconi confirmed that his centre-right Forza Italia party would remain in opposition but said he would support Renzi's new government if "its plans are in the interests of Italian citizens".

"We have assured the new prime minister of our willingness to work together," he told a press conference.

Berlusconi said he is particularly keen to work with Renzi on electoral law reform, an area they have already forged agreements in the past.

"I believe it is essential to reform parliament so that there is more than one house which approves laws," said Berlusconi, who also advocated a direct election for the president, who is currently selected by lawmakers.

'You know nothing'

It was a far more amicable meeting than Renzi's next appointment, with Five Star Movement leader Beppe Grillo.

Visible to all by a live internet stream, it appeared to be a dialogue of the deaf, with neither side appearing interested in the other.

Grillo eventually told him: "You are not credible. You're young, you know nothing...your programme is a copy and paste of our's".

Renzi rose and told him: "Outside of this blog, we have some real problems to resolve."

A furious Grillo then told journalists gathered outside the talks: "This is a war. No more deals, mediations, coalitions. That world is over."

Renzi is expected to spend Thursday working on his programme and Friday on his cabinet line-up, which will then likely be submitted to President Giorgio Napolitano on Saturday before the government is sworn in and voted into office by parliament.

Tweet Photos, Videos and Update on this Story to  #cna