Giorgia Meloni appointed as Italy’s first female PM as far-right party takes power

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Giorgia Meloni has agreed to form Italy’s next government, a presidential official said on Friday, clearing the way for her to become the country’s first woman prime minister. Ms Meloni, head of the nationalist Brothers of Italy, led an alliance of conservative parties to victory at a September 25 election and will take charge of the country’s most right-wing government since World War 2.

Speaking after Ms Meloni had consulted with President Sergio Mattarella in his Quirinale palace, presidential official Ugo Zampetti told reporters: “Giorgia Meloni has accepted the mandate and has presented her list of ministers.”

The new government will be formally sworn in on Saturday morning, after which it will face confidence votes in both its upper and lower legislatures next week.

Meloni heads a coalition including Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia and Matteo Salvini’s League.

Italy’s 68th government since 1946 faces daunting challenges, including a looming recession, rising energy bills and how to present a united front over the Ukraine war.

It will replace a national unity government led by former European Central Bank head Mario Draghi, who attended a European Union summit in Brussels on Friday in one of his last acts as prime minister.

Although the process of putting together a new administration has been rapid by Italian standards, it has exposed tensions in the coalition, with Mr Berlusconi repeatedly appearing to try to undermine Ms Meloni’s authority.

When she was 19, and an activist with the youth wing of the Italian Social Movement, Ms Meloni said: “”Mussolini was a good politician, in that everything he did, he did for Italy.”

Ms Meloni immediately named Giancarlo Giorgetti of the League party as her economy minister and said the foreign ministry will go to Antonio Tajani from Forza Italia.

Among other top cabinet posts, the interior ministry goes to Matteo Piantedosi, a career civil servant with no party affiliation, and the defence ministry goes to Guido Crosetto, one of the founders of Brothers of Italy.

In all, nine ministries were handed out to Brothers of Italy politicians, five each to the League and Forza Italia, with technocrats given a further five cabinet posts.

However, it is unlikely to be all plain sailing to the coalition government.

At the opening of the new parliament, a note by Mr Berlusconi and left in public view revealed he found Ms Meloni “overbearing … domineering … arrogant … offensive.”

Mr Berlusconi also made headlines this week after he boasted of exchanging “sweet letters” with Vladimir Putin, revealed the Russian President had sent him 20 bottles of vodka, and appeared to suggest Ukraine, not Russia, was responsible for the invasion of February 24.

(More to follow)

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