Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta has announced his resignation after his own party voted for a change of government, with 39-year-old leftist Matteo Renzi now expected to replace him.
Letta said he will submit his resignation to President Giorgio Napolitano on Friday after less than a year at the head of an uneasy left-right coalition and just as Italy is beginning to emerge from a painful recession.
Members of the centre-left Democratic Party’s governing directorate voted 136 for and 16 against to a motion requesting a change of government submitted by Renzi in a dramatic climax to a weeks-long feud with Letta.
The party thanked Letta for his “positive work” but called for “a new phase with a new executive”.
Ever since being elected to lead the party in December, the ambitious and media-savvy Renzi has accused Letta of dragging his feet on crucial political reforms and failing to do enough to combat rampant unemployment.
Napolitano will now have to formally name a candidate to replace Letta, virtually certain to be Renzi, and a new cabinet could be in place by next week.
The resignation is due to be preceded by Letta’s final cabinet meeting on Friday.