PROFILE-Italy's Prime Minister Matteo Renzi

Sat Feb 22, 2014 11:26am EST

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Position: Prime Minister Incumbent: Matteo Renzi Date of Birth: Jan. 11 1975 Term: Appointed February 2014

Key Facts: - Italy's youngest prime minister, Matteo Renzi built a strong political profile as mayor of the city of Florence before winning the leadership of the centre-left Democratic Party (PD), overcoming opposition from the left of the party. A commanding presence on television, he speaks rapidly with a marked Tuscan accent. - He became prime minister after forcing his party rival Enrico Letta to resign with repeated attacks on the government's slow progress on economic reform that persuaded the PD leadership to withdraw its backing. - He is the third prime minister in succession to be appointed without an election victory and leads the same cross-party coalition as his predecessor Letta. While there is no constitutional requirement for a premier to be elected, he has faced criticism after going back on pledges not to seek office without a mandate from voters. - Ambitious about shaking up hidebound structures he says have held Italy back, he has promised sweeping reforms to help pull the economy out of decades of decline and overhaul a constitutional system blamed for preventing stable government. - A former boy scout who began his career in youth politics in the old Christian Democratic party, Renzi is an admirer of U.S. President Barack Obama. He has limited international and European experience but his rapid rise has attracted close attention outside Italy, meeting German Chancellor Angela Merkel on her request last year, even before he became PD leader.

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