The 40-year-old prime ministers have much in common but one, Renzi, is focused on the future, while the other, Tspiras, is mired in the past.
Renzi has taken on the Italian political system and has already achieved many reforms, especially in the area of labor practices. He appears ready to push ahead even further as he contemplates abolishing the Italian Senate, "which Mr. Renzi and many others regard as emblematic of a broken political system that often seems designed not to get things done." (The Italian Senate is one of two houses of parliament that have the same power in the Italian system of government.)
But, he still has much to do.
He has taken a center-left position and sees himself in the tradition of Tony Blair and Bill Clinton. But, more important, he is focused on the European Union and the place of Europe in the world. He wants Italy to be an important member of a strong coalition that has its role to play on the world stage.
Renzi's position over the past several months has been strengthened by rise of Tsipras and his Syriza Party who are focused solely on Greece and the austerity program that Greece has been going through.
In this respect, Tsipras and Greece may have provided Italy (and France) and others in the eurozone an example of what they cannot afford to be. In fact, Greece may be the example Europe needed for the European Union to move to the next step in political union.
It has always been argued that the Euro currency union must be a part of a European political union for the experiment to really be successful.
However, Europe has centuries of experience of national pride and independent identities. As a consequence, there is a history of bickering and war. Achieving political unity within such a boiling pot has always seemed like a far-off dream.
Well, the Greek situation may have changed all that.
Greece, unassisted, may have provided the "bad" example that was needed to move the unity process along. If Renzi can now accomplish his goals of political and economic reform, the European Union will make a giant step forward and make it almost impossible for the reluctant forces in France to block its reform efforts.
The battle here is to create a trading area, the Eurozone, whose economies are productive, competitive and creative. The objective is for this area to hold its own against the United States and against a surging China.
In order to be fully competitive in this environment, the Eurozone, as an economic bloc, must be unified. Europe's leaders must set the bar high for membership. The United States and China are not going to wait for Europe to catch up.
It has been said that in his campaign to become president of France, François Hollande was able to unite the two ideological wings of his Socialist party, a wing that believed in globalization connected with a business-friendly approach to policy and a wing that wanted more public spending and social-orientated policies.
Since becoming president, Hollande has had to chose one or the other as he faced the realities of the global economy. He chose the former, hence creating dissatisfaction within his own political party.
Renzi is also choosing the former.
The reality of the situation is that choosing a policy of more public spending connected with social-orientated goals might help a nation in the short-run. However, if the country in unable to be sufficiently productive and competitive as global competition increases, its citizens will only be at a disadvantage over the longer-run.
Spain, Portugal, and Ireland, who have recently gone through periods of reform and austerity seem fully on board the Eurozone's approach. With Greece as a further stimulus, Italy and France have ratcheted up their commitments to the community.
As a consequence, Greece really stands alone. This is not game theory; this is reality.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.