Matteo Renzi, once the polished youthful star of Italy’s centre-left Democratic Party (PD), announced his resignation as the party leader late Monday after the PD suffered significant losses in Sunday’s national election.
Speaking from the PD’s headquarters in Rome, the 43-year-old former mayor of Florence said he will step down and a party congress will be convened to choose its new head.
“It was a clear loss that forces us to turn a page,” said Renzi to the international press corps.
The Democratic Party, the largest party in Italy’s Chamber of Deputies and Senate, garnered only 18.8% of the votes cast. The March 4 poll was dominated by the populist left-wing populist 5-Star Movement of Luigi di Maio and its far-right counterpart, the Northern League, led by Matteo Salvini.
Sunday’s major electoral defeat was the worst in history for the PD.
Renzi will head the party’s delegation during talks for the creation of a new administration and ruled out the possibility of forming a coalition with either with the Northern League or 5-Star to form the new government.
“We said during the campaign that we’d never govern with extremists and we will remain faithful to that position. I will do what I love doing, being a senator from Florence.”
Renzi became Italy’s youngest prime minister in 2014, after securing 40% of the vote in European Parliamentary elections. He resigned in 2016 after suffering a defeat in a constitutional reform referendum, which was seen at the time as a vote of confidence of his leadership.
Despite his diminished imagine, he remained at the helm of the party but failed to nominate a successor that carried the same weight as his candidacy in 2014.