Far-right leader sworn in as Italian PM, in first since WWII

Giorgia Meloni, whose Brothers of Italy party has neo-fascist roots, also becomes first woman to lead Italy; vows to act ‘in exclusive interests of the nation’ as she takes oath

Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni gestures to cameras as she leaves after swearing in at Quirinal presidential palace, October 22, 2022. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni gestures to cameras as she leaves after swearing in at Quirinal presidential palace, October 22, 2022. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

ROME — Giorgia Meloni, whose political party has neo-fascist roots, was sworn in on Saturday as Italy’s first far-right premier since the end of World War II.

Meloni, 45, took the oath of office before the Italian president at the presidential palace, becoming also the first woman to be the nation’s leader.

Her Brothers of Italy party was the top vote-getter in last month’s national election. Meloni announced her cabinet on Friday evening. Her coalition allies include the right-wing League of Matteo Salvini and the conservative Forza Italia party headed by former Premier Silvio Berlusconi.

Meloni recited the ritual oath of office, pledging to be faithful to Italy’s post-war republic and to act “in the exclusive interests of the nation.” The pledge was signed by her and counter-signed by President Sergio Mattarella, who, in his role as head of state, serves as guarantor of the Constitution, drafted in the years immediately after the end of war, which saw the demise of fascist dictator Benito Mussolini.

Meloni’s 24 ministers followed, similarly swearing in. Five of the ministers are technocrats, not representing any party. Six of them are women.

Meloni will head her first cabinet meeting on Sunday. Her government replaces that led by Mario Draghi, a former European Central Bank chief, who was appointed by Mattarella in 2021 to lead a pandemic national unity coalition. Meloni was the sole major party leader to refuse to join the coalition, insisting the nation’s voters return to the polls, which they did on September 25.

Italian President Sergio Mattarella is flanked by newly appointed Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni during the swearing-in ceremony at Quirinal presidential palace in Rome, October 22, 2022, as Italy’s first far-right-led government since the end of World War II takes office. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

As Meloni was sworn in Saturday, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen congratulated her on becoming premier and said she looked forward to “constructive cooperation” with her government.

“Congratulations to Giorgia Meloni on her appointment as Italian Prime Minister, the first woman to hold the post,” von der Leyen tweeted.

“I count on and look forward to constructive cooperation with the new government on the challenges we face together.”

The congratulations were echoed by the speaker of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, who tweeted in Italian that “Europe needs Italy.”

Meloni was named Italian prime minister on Friday, taking the helm of the EU’s third-biggest economy.

She named a former European Parliament speaker, Antonio Tajani, as her foreign minister.

Meloni’s coalition wants to renegotiate Italy’s portion of an EU post-Covid recovery fund, arguing that the current energy crisis should be taken into account for their disbursement.

But the funds are tied to a series of reforms and analysts say Meloni has limited room for maneuver on that issue.

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