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Renzi Urges Letta to Quit to Allow for New Italy Government

By Andrew Frye
February 13, 2014 11:04 AM EST

Matteo Renzi, head of Italy’s biggest political party, withdrew his support for Prime Minister Enrico Letta and urged the premier to quit and make way for a new government.

The country needs “to start a new season, with a new executive that lasts for the entire mandate of this legislature,” Renzi, 39, said today in a Democratic Party meeting in Rome. “We thank Prime Minister Enrico Letta” for his work in 10 months as premier, Renzi said.

The comments bring the intraparty power struggle between Letta, 47, and Renzi out into the open and may signal the end of the premier’s administration. The Democratic Party’s support for Letta has eroded since Renzi, who is also the mayor of Florence, took over as party general secretary in December.

“It is over,” Francesco Galietti, founder of Rome-based research company Policy Sonar, said of Letta’s government. “Now it’s only about damage control and how to sell this transition to the wider public.”

Gianmarco Trevisi, a spokesman for Letta, didn’t immediately respond to a text message seeking comment.

The legislature that resulted from a general election last year is due to run until 2018. If Letta resigns or loses a confidence vote in parliament, it will be up to President Giorgio Napolitano to decide whether to call snap elections or instead appoint a new premier capable of commanding a majority in the existing parliament.

With minimal policy differences between Letta and Renzi, investors shrugged off the political turmoil. Italian bonds were little changed with the yield on 10-year notes at 3.73 percent at 4:50 p.m. in Rome.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Frye in Rome at afrye@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net

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