Renzi set to be Italy's youngest ever PM
Matteo Renzi, 39, will break Mussolini's record if he's confirmed as Italian prime minister
AT THE age of 39, Matteo Renzi is set to become Italy's youngest prime minister after the Italian president Giorgio Napolitano asked him to form a government.
In Italy, prime ministers are appointed by the president and confirmed by parliament, so can be switched mid-term without a new election. Opposition parties have criticised the system, saying it denies voters a say in their leader.
The outgoing prime minister, Enrico Letta, was ousted from power after a vote called by Renzi at a meeting of the centre-left Democratic Party.
Renzi, the leader of the Democratic Party and mayor of Florence, said he would need "a few days" to form a new government, but pledged to launch major reforms and revive the country's ailing economy, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.
"I will put in all the courage, effort, energy and enthusiasm of which I am capable," Renzi said at a press conference to confirm his intention to form government.
He will need to select a team of ministers, return to the president for a swearing-in ceremony and secure a vital vote of confidence from both houses of parliament before he can assume the prime ministership.
If successful, Renzi will become Italy's youngest ever head of government, pipping the fascist dictator Benito Mussolini by just a couple of months.
Tony Blair, regarded by many as providing a template for Renzi's political career, endorsed the leader: "The challenges are absolutely formidable but Matteo has the dynamism, creativity and toughness to succeed, with the combination of realism and idealism necessary for the times in which we live," Blair told Italian news agency Adnkronos.
Renzi plans a programme of rapid reform, including changes to electoral law, a new jobs stimulus package, and an overhaul of tax and bureaucracy by the middle of the year.
A similar centre-left putsch happened in 1998, and was followed three years later by a landslide victory for Silvio Berlusconi.