Populist Brand Giorgia Melon was named Italy’s first female prime minister, becoming the country’s most right-wing leader since Benito Mussolini.
She received the mandate to form a government from Italian President Sergio Mattarella on Friday afternoon after two days of official consultations, and is due to be sworn in at 10 a.m. local time (4 a.m. ET) on Saturday.
General elections last month resulted in an alliance of far-right and center-right parties, led by his Ultraconservative Brothers of Italywinning enough seats in the Italian parliament to form a government.
Meloni announced his government’s choices at the Quirinal Palace in Rome, making the leader of Italy’s far-right League party Matteo Salvini infrastructure minister.
Giancarlo Giorgetti, also from the League party, has been appointed Economy Minister. Antonio Tajani of the Forza Italia party was appointed foreign minister while the role of defense minister went to Guido Crosetto, one of the founders of the Brothers of Italy party.
The new government will be made up of a coalition of Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party, Salvini’s League party and the Forza Italia party, led by former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. The Brothers of Italy received nine ministries while Forza Italia and the League each received five ministries.
Meloni will be sworn in at a ceremony at 10 a.m. local time (4 a.m. ET) Saturday morning.
Gathering his new cabinet revealed tensions. This weekControversial former leader Berlusconi made headlines when audio released by Italian news agency LaPresse revealed the 86-year-old spoke about his “restored” relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Berlusconi’s office confirmed to CNN on Thursday that the clips were authentic – having apparently been secretly recorded during a meeting of his Forza Italia party in the parliamentary chamber on Tuesday.
In the audio, the billionaire and media mogul says he has “reestablished relations with President Putin” and boasts that the Russian leader has called him “the first of his five true friends”.
His comments raised eyebrows, as diplomatic relations between Russia and Western leaders remain strained amid the Kremlin’s grueling army. attack on ukraine.
Berlusconi was the subject of multiple trials for corruption and bribery during his tumultuous political career.
Meloni was a strong supporter of Ukraine in its fight against the invasion of Moscow. Amid backlash from her coalition following Berlusconi’s leaked comments, she reaffirmed her foreign policy line.
“With us in power, Italy will never be the weak link in the West. The nation of spaghetti and mandolins dear to many of our critics will revive its credibility and defend its interests,” Meloni said Wednesday evening on his Instagram account.
Speaking earlier on Friday after a meeting with Mattarella and his coalition partners, Meloni said there was a need to form the new government “as soon as possible”.
“We are ready to rule Italy,” Meloni’s official Facebook page said. “We will be able to face the emergencies and challenges of our time with awareness and competence.
Meloni entered the crowded Italian political scene in 2006 and in 2012 co-founded the Brothers of Italy, a party whose agenda is rooted in euroscepticism and anti-immigration policies.
The group’s popularity soared ahead of the September election, as Italian voters once again rejected mainstream politics and opted for a fringe figure.
She first made a name for herself as vice-president of the National Alliance, a staunchly neo-fascist group formed by supporters of Benito Mussolini. Meloni herself openly admired the dictator as a youth, but later distanced herself from his brand of fascism – despite retaining the tricolor flame symbolizing eternal fire at his grave in the Brotherhood of Italy logo.
She has pursued a staunchly conservative agenda throughout her political career, frequently questioning LGBT rights, abortion rights and immigration policies.