Europe Economy

Italy’s new leader Renzi already in the soup

Italy's new Prime Minister Matteo Renzi first speech in the country's parliament since gaining office was labelled "badly-mixed minestrone" by an opposition politician.

The boyish-looking 39-year-old Renzi's honeymoon period has been brief even by the standards of Italian politics. He is the country's third prime minister in less than three years after ousting former leader Enrico Letta earlier this month.

Renzi said Monday that he wants to be "the last prime minister to ask this chamber for a confidence vote" - but this is far from guaranteed.

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(Read more: Renzi's first test)

The soup-related attack on Renzi, from the Democratic Party, came from Altero Matteoli of Silvio Berlusconi's right-leaning Forza Italia party, which has so far supported Renzi against Letta.

One of the reasons Renzi was able to gain power were his popular proposals to reduce the power held by Italy's smaller parties to veto laws, which is often criticized for slowing down the country's reform plans. This is backed by Berlusconi.

Yet support in Italian politics is always fragile, as Letta found out.

(Read more: Doubts over Renzi's reforms for Italy)

"There are a lot of dreams and a lot of discussions, but the most relevant issue is that Renzi did not refer to a source of financial cover to fund all his beautiful ideas," Maria Mussini, a senator for Beppe Grillo's anti-establishment 5 Star Movement, told CNBC.

Renzi has brought 'big sea change': Pro

Previous administrations have tried to make a dent in Italy's public debt, which is predicted to finish this year at 132.8 percent of output, close to the 132.9 percent at the end of 2013 - the highest level of euro zone countries apart from Greece.

Renzi faces a "steep and bumpy climb" as he tries to push through an ambitious timetable of reforms to the country's economy, education and judicial system, Credit Suisse analysts pointed out in a research note.

"The necessary reforms for the country are well known and documented," they wrote. "However, opposition inside and outside the parliament and inside and outside the public administration has curtailed most of their efforts. And Renzi is likely to face similar challenges."

(Read more: Italian 'Demolition Man' takes charge)

It comes as international bond investors desert the country - net demand for Italian bonds fell to at a six-month low over the four weeks to February 24. This follows proposals to raise the bond coupon tax to 20 percent from 12.5 percent.

Italy's benchmark stock index, the FTSE MIB, has risen slightly since Renzi's appointment, but analysts cautioned this may not be a vote of confidence in the new Prime Minister so much as a continuation of reignited investor interest in European equities.

"(The new government) is business as usual, which is slow progress," Michael Gallagher, director of research at IDEAGlobal, told CNBC.

- By CNBC's Catherine Boyle. Twitter: @cboylecnbc.