Florence Mayor Matteo Renzi on Thursday said it was "legitimate" for the CEO of automaker Fiat Sergio Marchionne to call him "a bad copy of Obama". "It's absolutely legitimate for the CEO of Fiat to complain about Matteo Renzi or say he's not his candidate," said Renzi, who is seeking to represent the center-left Democratic Party (PD) in elections next spring. Marchionne was caught making his comments Wednesday at a closed-door meeting with students in Brussels, where he also called Renzi the head of a "small and poor city". Renzi had criticized Marchionne for shipping plants overseas while closing factories in Italy, where the auto market has drastically shrunk amid the recession.
"He's an Italian citizen," added Renzi Thursday. "He's absulutely right to speak his opinions. If then he pays taxes in Italy, even better. But he doesn't need to drag the beauty of Italy and our cities into politics". Marchionne makes no secret about paying taxes in Switzerland.
Renzi, 37, may become Italy's next premier. He is currently leading primary polls if Italians turn out in large numbers, according to SWG statistics. He would replace Premier Mario Monti, whose tenure as head of a technocratic government ends in April.