Confidence in Italy’s prime minister plummets

Confidence in Italy’s prime minister plummets
Italians are losing faith in their leader, Matteo Renzi. Photo: Thierry Charlier/AFP
Italians’ confidence in their young premier Matteo Renzi has plummeted since his whirlwind start early last year, according to a new opinion poll.

Admired for his energy and drive, Renzi was well-received, at home and abroad, when he became Italy’s prime minister in February 2014, despite the Italian electorate not having a say in the matter.

A poll at the time showed that 58 percent of those surveyed had faith in him, a figure that rose to 67 percent after his centre-left Democratic Party’s remarkable success in the European Elections a few months later.

But confidence in the 40-year-old now stands at 35 percent, according to a poll carried out by the Milan-based Piepoli Institute on behalf of La Stampa.

Aside from an uptick after he announced tax cuts earlier this month, faith in the leader has gradually dwindled since the European Elections.

Still, despite the drop, Renzi is more popular than other Italian party leaders.

According to the poll, just 25 percent have confidence in the anti-immigration Northern League leader Matteo Salvini, while the Five Star Movement’s Beppe Grillo is just one percentage point behind.

Silvio Berlusconi’s popularity also continues to wane, with just 13 percent of Italians polled having faith in him. Feeling the effects of being sidelined, the Forza Italia leader said last week that his long time friend, Russian President Vladimir Putin, wanted him as economy minister. However, a spokesperson for the Kremlin later said the offer was meant “figuratively”.

Italy’s most popular politicians, apart from President Sergio Mattarella, are Economy Minister Pier Carlo Padoan (53 percent), Infrastructure and Transport Minister Graziano Delrio (52 percent), Culture Minister Dario Franchesini and Maurizio Martina, the minister for agriculture, each with 50 percent.

Once described by the media as “a young man in a hurry”, Renzi has been quick to push through reforms, including controversial labour and education reforms, despite his dwindling popularity.

But while they might be losing faith in their leader, the survey also found a slight uptick among Italians in their confidence in an economic recovery. Just as well they like their economy minister.

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