Italy's Youngest-Ever PM Sworn In

Italian Premier designate Matteo Renzi meets reporters at the Quirinale presidential palace in Rome on Feb. 21, 2014. /AP Italian Premier designate Matteo Renzi meets reporters at the Quirinale presidential palace in Rome on Feb. 21, 2014. /AP

Italian center-left leader Matteo Renzi took office on Saturday as his country's youngest prime minister, promising a new era of stable government after he forced out his predecessor over the slow pace of economic reforms.

The 39-year-old former mayor of Florence has named a low-profile list of ministers with a mix of politicians and technocrats that includes no figures capable of challenging his control. Its success or failure will therefore be seen as his responsibility alone.

With an average age under 48, the 16-member Cabinet is one of the smallest and youngest in recent Italian history. Half its members are women, the highest proportion ever.

But Renzi faces widespread skepticism that his new government has the political maturity to tackle the country's formidable challenges.

The Italian economy is only just beginning to recover after several years of stagnation. Youth unemployment is around 40 percent.

Renzi, who won the leadership of the center-left Democratic Party only in December, forced his party rival Enrico Letta to resign the prime ministership last week after repeatedly attacking him for not moving more quickly on economic reforms.

VOA News / Feb. 24, 2014 08:13 KST