Giorgia Meloni, whose political party with neo-fascist roots emerged victorious in recent elections, was sworn in on Saturday as Italy´s first far-right premier since the end of World War II. She is also the first woman to be premier.
Meloni, 45, recited the oath of office before President Sergio Mattarella, who formally asked her to form a government a day earlier.
Her Brothers of Italy party, which she co-founded in 2012, will rule in coalition with the right-wing League of Matteo Salvini and the conservative Forza Italia party headed by former Premier Silvio Berlusconi. Those two parties’ popularity has sagged with voters in recent years.
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 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.
In her campaign for the Sept. 25 election, Meloni insisted that national interests prevail over European Union policies should there be conflict. She often railed against EU bureaucracy.
Salvini’s right-wing League party has at times leaned euroskeptic. An admirer of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Salvini has also questioned the wisdom of EU sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, arguing that they hurt Italian business interests more than Russian ones.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen sounded an upbeat note in her congratulations tweet to Meloni right after she was sworn in and noted that the Italian was the first woman to hold the premiership.
“I count on and look forward to constructive cooperation with the new government on the challenges we face together,” the EU chief said.
One immediate challenge for Meloni will be ensuring that her country stays solidly aligned with other major nations in the West in helping that country fight off the Russian invaders. In the days before she became premier, Meloni resorted to giving an an ultimatum to her other main coalition partner, Berlusconi, over his professed sympathy for Putin.
Berlusconi in remarks to his center-right Forza Italia party lawmakers, delivered what was tantamount to justification for the Russian invasion in February to install what he called a “decent” government in the Ukrainian capital.