Italy's foreign minister, Paolo Gentiloni, says he has accepted a presidential mandate to try to form a new government and serve as premier, reports the AP. Gentiloni told reporters minutes after receiving the mandate from President Sergio Mattarella that he'll go straight to work trying to form a new government with the same Democratic-led coalition majority. If he succeeds in forming a coalition that can win a required confidence vote in Parliament, the 62-year-old Gentiloni will replace fellow Democrat Matteo Renzi, who resigned last week as premier after a bitter defeat in a voter referendum on reforms. Renzi has been staying on in a caretaker role. Opposition parties, including the populist 5-Star Movement, have been clamoring for a new election.
Gentiloni, a Democrat like Renzi, had emerged as a likely pick for Mattarella after the president held three days of consultations with political and parliamentary leaders. Mattarella has reminded political leaders that Italy faces several urgent problems including a possible government bailout for the Italian bank Monti dei Paschi di Siena, which direly needs to raise new capital, and the reconstruction of several Italian towns destroyed by earthquakes in recent months. (Read more Paolo Gentiloni stories.)