ROME (HPD) — Formal consultations began Thursday to form a new government in Italy, but differences between right-wing allies over Russia and Ukraine risk undermining the pro-NATO and pro-European promises of the would-be ruling coalition.
President Sergio Mattarella invited parliamentary and party leaders to a series of private talks on Friday at the Quirinal Palace before giving the formal order to form a new government after elections on September 25.
Giorgia Meloni – whose Brothers of Italy party won the most votes with 26% – is eager to become the first leader of the Italian far-right to head a government since the end of the World War and the first woman to the post of prime minister. But Meloni’s jubilation at her party’s electoral victory has been tempered by former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s sympathetic views of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The popularity of Forza Italia, Berlusconi’s centre-right party, has fallen.
Mattarella will give the order to forge a government in the hours or days after Friday’s meeting where Meloni, Berlusconi and the other great figure of Italy’s political right are summoned, the leader of the League, Matteo Salvini, who has questioned the Western sanctions against Russia.
The president has made it clear that Italy needs a government that quickly pushes through measures to ease the burden of high energy costs on the pocketbooks of Italians. Mattarella has also insisted that Italy must support the European Union and the West against Russia because of the war in Ukraine.
On the eve of the consultations at the Quirinal, Meloni gave Berlusconi an ultimatum on the foreign policy of the government he intends to lead.
“Whoever does not agree with this cornerstone will not be able to be part of the government, even if it means having no government,” Meloni said in a statement issued by his party, whose electoral platform stresses unconditional support for Ukraine.
Last week, Berlusconi, clearly irritated that he no longer dominates Italy’s right, posted notes in the Senate scrawling ridicule at Meloni, portraying her as presumptuous, bossy and arrogant.
Throughout the election campaign, Berlusconi, who, as prime minister, socialized in Italy and Russia with Putin, insisted that he was a staunch supporter of NATO and the United States.
But this week audios emerged where Berlusconi expresses his sympathy for Putin and seem to reveal the opposite, running the risk of sabotaging any coalition.