Italian prime minister-designate Matteo Renzi talks to reporters at the end of the consultations with leaders of Italian parties in Rome. Picture: Tony Gentile


Rome - The Italian Senate was due on Monday to hold a vote of confidence on the newly installed government led by Matteo Renzi, giving the youthful prime minister the chance to flesh out his ambitious reform agenda.

Renzi, 39, is the youngest premier in Italy's history, and also the youngest serving leader in the European Union.

His government was sworn in on Saturday, a week after he engineered a palace coup to unseat party colleague Enrico Letta from the premiership.

“Difficult and tough task. But we are Italy, we will make it,” Renzi said at the weekend through his favourite channel of communication, Twitter.

The premier was scheduled to speak in the Senate starting from 2pm (21.00 GMT), but the vote of confidence was expected to take place several hours later, after a lengthy debate.

The same procedure was due to be followed on Tuesday in the lower house of parliament, the Chamber of Deputies.

Renzi, the outgoing mayor of Florence and leader of the centre-left Democratic Party (PD), was expected to speak about wide-ranging plans to lower payroll and corporate taxes, boost jobs, streamline state bureaucracy, overhaul parliamentary procedures.

Renzi's right-hand man and head of the cabinet office, Graziano Del Rio, stirred controversy on Sunday, by suggesting that some money for the planned reforms could be raised by increasing levies on holders of government bonds.

Coalition partners from the New Centre Right (NCD) party quickly dismissed the proposal, calling it “wrong.”

Renzi's PD is by far the biggest member of the ruling coalition, but it needs the support of the NCD and smaller centrist and leftist groupings to command a majority in both houses of parliament.

Speaking on RAI state television, Del Rio said Renzi wanted to stay in office until the end of the parliamentary term, in 2018, but would not be “afraid” of resigning and triggering early elections if parliament blocked his reform efforts.

Del Rio also said the government did not want to breach the European Union's rules on deficits - which limit budget shortfalls to 3 percent of gross domestic product - but would seek more “flexibility” on public investments.