Italian President Giorgio Napolitano has asked centre-left leader Matteo Renzi to form a new government following the resignation of former Prime Minister Enrico Letta last week, an official from the president's office said.

Renzi, who met Napolitano for 90 minutes on Monday, will need to seal a formal coalition deal with the small centre-right NCD party to secure a governing majority and name his cabinet before seeking a formal vote of confidence in parliament later this week.

Some Italians think Renzi should have been elected

He has promised a radical programme of action to lift Italy out of its most serious economic slump since World War II, but will have to deal with the same unwieldy coalition which failed to pass major reforms under its previous leader.

"In this difficult situation, I will bring all the energy and commitment I am capable of," he told reporters after a 90-minute meeting with President Giorgio Napolitano when he was given a mandate to form a new government.

"The sense of urgency is extraordinarily delicate and important but it's also true that, given the time horizon we have set off a full parliamentary term, we'll need a few days before formally accepting the mandate," he said.

The 39-year-old mayor of Florence has been expected to take over since he engineered the removal of his party rival Letta as prime minister at a meeting of the Democratic Party leadership last week, after growing impatience with the slow pace of economic reforms.

The Eurozone's third largest economy is technically no longer in recession since it scraped back into growth in the fourth quarter of 2013.

However, it remains profoundly marked by the crisis with a 2 trillion euro ($2.74 trillion) public debt, a rapidly crumbling industrial base and millions out of work.

Renzi said he expected to lay out full reforms to Italy's lectoral law and political institutions by the end of February, to be followed by labour reforms in March, an overhaul of the public administration in April and a tax reform in May.

He made no comment on the likely makeup of his cabinet.

Source: AP