Matteo Renzi Vs. Alexis Tsipras: Two ambitious young guns

Renzi Vs. Tsipras: Two ambitious young guns

Matteo Renzi, leader of the center-left PD and Alexis Tsipras, leader of SYRIZA have a lot in common. Both young, energetic, ambitious and wannabe PMs. They have differences too.

Theo Ioannou

So the die is cast. Italy will have a new head of government soon, but all eyes are on Matteo Renzi, leader of the center-left Democratic Party (PD), who forced Enrico Letta, former party leader, to resign from Italy's coalition government.

Whether he will be able to lead a new center-left / center-right coalition or not, his youth, ambition and free-style political campaigning seem quite similar to the ones introduced to the Greek political arena by current opposition leader Alexis Tsipras.

Mr. Renzi is almost 40 years old and is known for his youth vitality with analysts noticing his restless energy. He likes walking around in black jeans, attends meetings in shirt sleeves and travels around in a small car and on a bicycle.

In these hard times for the continent, only time will tell whether they will turn into a new Tony Blair or a wondering Daniel Cohn-Bendit

Alexis Tsipras is 40 years old, also known for his youthful vitality and restless energy, particularly in his many trips abroad. He usually walks around in jeans and shirts with rolled down sleeves – an image associated with hard work. He doesn't own a car, but drives a motorbike.

Renzi began his career in local politics, getting elected as mayor of Florence. He has never run for national office and has yet to be elected in the Italian parliament. Since his election in the PD leadership last December, he has run his political platform on constant accusations against his country's elite, their old ideas and their inability to deal with its problems. He has never hidden his ambition of becoming the country's youngest PM as soon as possible.

Tsipras began his career elected in the Athens municipality. He failed to make mayor, but achieved way higher percentages than his party did in the Athens area. He was elected in the SYRIZA leadership a few years ago, becoming the youngest ever political leader in the country. His political platform ever since has been a series of accusations against the political establishment, accusing them of bankrupt ideas and the inability to deal with the country's problems. He keeps pushing for early elections, convinced that he will be the next PM.

A crash test between them is not always full of similarities. Renzi's talk is simple and engaging, Tsipras' is full of left wing cliches and uninspiring banalities. Renzi is a product of the more moderate fraction of PD and seen with suspicion by his party's left wing, Tsipras is a by-product of the marginalized Greek Radical Left and is seen with suspicion by the country's moderate voters.

They could both make PM pretty soon with dubious effect. One thing is for sure: they are both ambitious young guns representing the European political nouvelle vague. In these hard times for the continent, only time will tell whether they will turn into a new Tony Blair or a wondering Daniel Cohn-Bendit.

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