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Meloni takes charge as PM as Italy swings to the right

Giorgia Meloni was named Italy’s first woman Prime Minister and chose her cabinet team, setting her seal on the country’s most right-wing government since World War Two.

Meloni, head of the nationalist Brothers of Italy, swept to victory in an election last month in alliance with Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia and Matteo Salvini’s League. Her government – Italy’s 68th since 1946 – will replace a national unity administration 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.

“Giorgia Meloni has accepted the mandate and has presented her list of ministers,” presidential official Ugo Zampetti told reporters after she held talks with President Sergio Mattarella in Quirinal Palace in Rome.

Meloni faces daunting challenges, notably a looming recession, rising energy bills and how to present a united front over the Ukraine war.

The list of ministers read out by Meloni, who has transformed the fortunes of the Brothers of Italy but has only limited ministerial experience, included just six other women. In all, nine ministries were handed out to Brothers of Italy politicians and five each to the League and Forza Italia, with technocrats given a further five cabinet posts. The new government will be formally sworn in on Saturday morning, after which it will face confidence votes in both houses of parliament next week.

Meloni stressed this week that her administration would be firmly pro-NATO and pro-European.

Key ministers in a new Italian government

Economy Minister – Giancarlo Giorgetti
A veteran political wheeler-dealer viewed as a moderate and relatively pro-European member of his right-wing League party. As industry minister in Mario Draghi’s outgoing government, Giorgetti helped block several Chinese takeover bids in strategic sectors of Italy’s economy. He was not Prime Minister Meloni’s first choice for the job. She had wanted a technocrat and sources say she approached European Central Bank board member Fabio Panetta, who declined the post.

Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister – Antonio Tajani
One of the closest aides to former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, a safe pair of hands with solid EU credentials who has been deputy leader of Berlusconi’s conservative Forza Italia party since 2018. A former journalist, Tajani entered politics with Berlusconi in 1994 and spent most of his political career in Brussels, either in the European Parliament or in the European Commission.

Interior Minister – Matteo Piantedosi
A career civil servant who was chief of staff to League leader Matteo Salvini during his term at the interior ministry in 2018-19, helping him to shape his hard-line policies against illegal immigration. He has spent the last two years as Rome’s prefect – a position which upholds security and public order in the capital.

Infrastructure Minister and Deputy Prime Minister – Matteo Salvini
The head of the hard-right League party and a former interior minister who has promoted a populist agenda, including mass deportations of boat migrants, sweeping tax cuts and lowering the retirement age. A one-time fervent supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Salvini has denied allegations his party was funded by Moscow and has criticised the invasion of Ukraine.

Industry Minister – Adolfo Urso
Member of Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party, he began his political career in the youth organisation of the Italian Social Movement (MSI), the post-fascist party created in 1946 by supporters of dictator Benito Mussolini. A former journalist, Urso was first elected to parliament in 1994. He held posts in centre-right governments led by Silvio Berlusconi and recently served as president of an influential parliamentary committee on security.

Defence Minister – Guido Crosetto
A defence industry lobbyist, a close aide to Meloni and co-founder of her party. He began his political career with the Christian Democratic Party in the 1980s and was a long-time member of parliament until 2019 when he resigned to become president of AIAD, a federation of companies working in the aerospace and defence sector. He served as junior defence minister in a government led by Berlusconi between 2008 and 2011.

Justice Minister – Carlo Nordio
A Brothers of Italy lawmaker is well-known in Italy as the former prosecutor of Venice, a post from which he retired in 2017. Meloni insisted on him for the job, overcoming resistance from Berlusconi who wanted a Forza Italia member in the justice ministry.

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