Luxembourgh Times
Politics

Italy parliament’s first session exposes Meloni’s bloc rifts

Senate chooses Ignazio La Russa as president even as lawmakers from one key party in the coalition opted not to vote

Leader of Italian far-right party Fratelli d'Italia (Brothers of Italy), Giorgia Meloni, casts her vote for the new president of the parliament

Leader of Italian far-right party Fratelli d'Italia (Brothers of Italy), Giorgia Meloni, casts her vote for the new president of the parliament © Photo credit: AFP

Source: Bloomberg

Italian lawmakers on Thursday elected an ally of right-wing leader Giorgia Meloni as Senate president, in a vote that exposed early rifts within the coalition backing the likely next prime minister.

In its first session since the 25 September elections, the Senate chose Ignazio La Russa, a member of Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party, as president, even as lawmakers from one key party in the coalition opted not to vote. The lower house failed to elect a speaker, as expected.

The decision by ex-Premier Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia to not take part in the vote points to growing divisions within the Meloni bloc over the makeup of the next cabinet. Berlusconi’s party and Matteo Salvini’s League are Meloni’s main allies.

La Russa was elected with 116 out of 206 votes in a secret ballot, despite Forza Italia lawmakers not showing up. That could mean that some opposition members stealthily supported Meloni’s candidate, as suggested by comments La Russa made in the Senate.

What’s clear is that Meloni is finding it difficult to build consensus within her coalition, even before President Sergio Mattarella officially asks her to form a new government. That step might come in the next few days, but coalition infighting over key posts might delay the process.

Meloni’s main priority is recruiting a finance minister who can offer credibility to markets and reassure investors that Italy’s mammoth debt can be managed.

She said Giancarlo Giorgetti, a League member and Economic Development Minister in Mario Draghi’s government, would be an “excellent” finance minister, the Ansa news service reported on Thursday evening.

Bloomberg reported earlier that Meloni was leaning toward Giorgetti as finance chief, according to people familiar with the matter.

©2022 Bloomberg L.P.