Renzi starts final days as Italy premier with party huddle

Renzi's center-left Democratic Party (PD) has said it is not inclined to remain alone at the helm, which could draw criticism from the opposition accusing the party of wanting to hang on to power at all costs.

While he offered to resign from his post as prime minister, he has not yet made any official statement as to his role as leader of the Democratic Party, which retains a majority of the seats in Parliament, and allows Renzi to maintain a significant role in politics. Then he or some other figure, perhaps from his Democrats, parliament's largest party, could be asked to lead a government focused on electoral reform.

Before the referendum, most commentators, and financial markets, assumed that even if Renzi lost and resigned, a temporary unelected government would be installed to tide Italy over until the end of parliament's term in 2018.

With elections looming in France, Germany and the Netherlands, all facing strengthening populist parties, political risk has become a key issue for the European Central Bank, which has been looking for government support to prop up growth as much of its own firepower has been exhausted.

This required amending an article of the constitution, a move that was rejected by Sunday's referendum.

The meeting will supposedly tackle the rivalry between supporters of Renzi, the former mayor of Florence, and the minority who opposed him in the referendum campaign, backing the No vote.

Renzi told the Democrats, Parliament's largest party, that his almost three-year-old premiership gave Italians "fewer taxes and more rights". "Now it depends on what the government decides to do", Zahn said.

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said he will resign after losing a key referendum on constitutional reform, plunging the country into political turmoil and the European Union in further uncertainty.

Italy passes 2017 budget, paving way for PM Renzi's resignation
Enrico Rossi, president of the Tuscany region from Mr Renzi's party, said it was time for change within the party. A new law, one giving the victor a big bonus in the lower Chamber of Deputies, was passed during Renzi's tenure.

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After Renzi, 41, suffered a crushing defeat in a referendum Sunday on constitutional reform, he presented his resignation to Italian President Sergio Mattarella on Monday.

But Mattarella told him to stay in office until passage of the budget law, which was done Wednesday afternoon.

It said: "The President of the Republic received this evening, at the Quirinale Palace, the President of the Council of Ministers, Dr. Matteo Renzi". Owing to a controversial change in the organization of the lower house of the parliament previous year that has yet to be ruled on by national courts, the electoral methods for the two houses of the bicameral legislature have yet to be synchronized, making early elections logistically hard.

Renzi announced he would step down after his heavy defeat.

"I forecast there will be the will to go to elections in February", Interior Minister Angelino Alfano, the head of a small centre-right party that is a crucial part of Renzi's ruling coalition, told Corriere della Sera on Tuesday.

Consultations between Mattarella and the political parties over choosing a caretaker prime minister and government could begin as early as Thursday and continue into Friday. Those talks could start over the weekend.

Almost 70 percent of Italians entitled to vote on Sunday cast their ballots, an exceptionally high turnout that reflected the high stakes and the intensity of the various issues involved.

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