World Bulletin / News Desk
Prime Minister Matteo Renzi's resignation has left Italy's top job up for grabs. Who are the frontrunners to replace him?
But with a rebel faction within the PD plotting to seize the party, and opposition parties determined not to have a Renzi ally at the helm, Mattarella may have no choice but to plump for an institutional rather than political figure.
- Pier Paolo Padoan -
Padoan, 66, is a seasoned economist with the potential to reassure financial markets and a jittery Europe. Tapped by Renzi in 2013 to be his finance minister -- a job few appeared prepared to do -- Padoan has been a prominent front-line figure, dealing with a banking crisis and wrangling over budget flexibility with Brussels. The professor is considered a safe pair of hands, though some analysts warn he may be too close to Renzi for the opposition's taste.
- Graziano Delrio -
Delrio, a doctor with nine children, is Renzi's closest ally and confidant. The 56-year-old studied medicine in Britain and Israel and specialised in endocrinology before moving into politics, becoming Renzi's state secretary, then minister of transport in 2015. He would be seen as a continuation of the previous administration, possibly with the plus of being able to bring the PD's rebel wing into line.
- Paolo Gentiloni -
Gentiloni, 62, is Italy's foreign minister and a PD stalwart. A former journalist with a degree in political sciences, he was communications minister in prime minister Romano Prodi's government between 2006 and 2008. Analysts say he is a known and trusted figure in Europe, but may be seen as too much of an establishment figure -- and, once again, too close to Renzi.
- Dario Franceschini -
Franceschini, 58, is Italy's minister of culture. A former lawyer and occasional novelist, he held Renzi's current role of PD party secretary for a few months in 2009. Though initially considered one of the frontrunners for Renzi's job, Franceschini has since been tied by Italian media reports to three-time billionaire former premier Silvio Berlusconi. Though he denies hopping into bed with Berlusconi to secure the support of his centre-right Forza Italia party, the rumours are believed to have severely damaged his chances.
- Pietro Grasso -
The former anti-mafia prosecutor, 71, is Italy's senate speaker and has a straight arrow reputation. He rose to fame in the 1980s as an associate judge in the first "maxi-trial" against the Sicilian Cosa Nostra and lead the probe into the murder of Piersanti Mattarella, a Sicilian president mown down by the mob. The slain man was current president Mattarella's older brother. Grasso is top choice if the job goes to an institutional figure.
- Matteo Renzi -
That's right, the outgoing 41-year-old prime minister himself is being touted as a possible contender for his own job. Some observers say he fears bowing out now would leave the door open to populist parties like the anti-euro Five Star Movement. But others say Renzi -- already slammed as arrogant by critics -- would be burning his bridges and would risk losing when the country returns to the ballot box, possibly as soon as early next year.