Matteo Renzi

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Matteo Renzi for the welcome remarks at the SoU 2012 in FlorenceWelcome

9 May, 9.00 – 9.30

Matteo Renzi (born January 11, 1975) is the Mayor of Florence, Italy, an office he assumed in June 2009 at the age of 35 after five years as the President of the Province of Florence, the youngest person ever to hold this office. Mayor Renzi’s decisive victory in the primary elections of the center-left Partito Democratico (Democratic Party of Italy) made his victory in the race for mayor a likely outcome in Florence where the electorate has a long history of voting to the left. Renzi’s youth and innovative style have made him a man to watch in the politics of a nation accustomed to slow and incremental change. Renzi’s campaign of “new faces at Palazzo Vecchio” struck a chord in the popular imagination and is a key to understanding the rapid rise of this charismatic Florentine.

In his first year in office, Mayor Renzi fulfilled his promise to bring fresh energy and positive change to the city: Piazza Duomo, one of Florence’s most famous squares, has been transformed from a thoroughfare for cars and buses into a pedestrian-only space suited for walking and admiring the beautiful architecture that fills it; 100 assemblies in 100 different locations throughout the city were held simultaneously in an unprecedented event that brought the citizenry into direct participation with local government; new urban planning regulations were approved that put a moratorium on all new construction in an effort to stop overbuilding and preserve the city’s green spaces; the city’s cultural life has been rejuvenated by keeping museums open till midnight and by hosting regular all-night cultural happenings in the main piazzas. These initiatives reflect the Mayor’s goal of restoring to Florence its historic vocation as a nexus of culture and innovation and have contributed to Renzi’s popularity and his ranking as best loved mayor in Italy.

Matteo Renzi graduated in 1999 with a degree in jurisprudence from the University of Florence having presented his thesis on the esteemed Mayor of Florence, Giorgio La Pira (1951-56). After graduation Renzi worked in a marketing firm during which time he became a locally elected leader of a national political party. He left the firm upon his appointment to the presidency of the Province and has pursued a political career since then. He is on the cutting edge of Italian politics, using Facebook and e-news to communicate with his growing constituency. Mayor Renzi has instituted a rule that the city administration be rigorously maintained on a gender equal basis.

Matteo Renzi represents a new sort of political figure in Italy, one who takes his inspiration from such great international figures as Robert Kennedy and Nelson Mandela. Embodying a widespread desire for change and renewal in Italian politics, Renzi has staked his political reputation on responding to the growing need in Italian society for politicians to represent the world of the 21st century. Renzi sees communication as an important tool and uses it to encourage people to pursue noble dreams, to tackle difficult problems, and to do so in a context of civility that has been lost in public debate in recent years.

Mayor Renzi has placed his bet on Florence, one of Italy’s great Cities of Art, not as a museum preserving relics of a golden past but rather as a beacon for the future. Renzi is betting against those cynics who claim “you can’t eat culture”; by investing in new technologies of culture he seeks to prove that Florence can and will do just that.

Matteo Renzi has published several books,“which include a collection of 240 e-news in “A viso aperto” (Polistampa, 2008); the role of youth in politics in “De Gasperi e gli U2: I trentenni e il futuro” (Giunti Editore, 2006); and as co-author of “Ma le giubbe rosse non uccisero Aldo Moro” (Giunti Editore, 1999), “Fuori!” (Rizzoli, 2011). His latest book is “Stil Novo- the beautiful between Dante and Twitter-“ (Rizzoli, 2012).

Matteo Renzi Video Interview at The State of the Union 2011

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