Italy’s far-right leader, Giorgia Meloni, formally asks for mandate to govern

Brothers of Italy leader Giorgia Meloni flanked by former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and politician Matteo Salvini
Brothers of Italy leader Giorgia Meloni is flanked by former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, left, and right-wing politician Matteo Salvini, right, at news conference in Rome.
(Roberto Monaldo / LaPresse)

Italian politician Giorgia Meloni, whose Brothers of Italy party has neo-fascist roots, said Friday that she and her allies have asked Italy’s president to give her the mandate to form what would be the nation’s first far-right-led government since the end of World War II.

Meloni and her campaign allies met for about 10 minutes with President Sergio Mattarella at the Quirinale presidential palace. She emerged to tell reporters that the right-wing coalition had unanimously indicated to Mattarella that she deserved the mandate to govern.

The palace later announced that Mattarella had summoned Meloni back, by herself, to meet with the president late Friday afternoon.


At that meeting, the president could decide that Meloni has assembled a viable government and invite her and her ministers to be sworn in the next day. He could also give her the mandate to try to form a government and some time to report back to him on her progress.

If Meloni, 45, succeeds, she would be the first woman to become Italian prime minister.

Winning the premiership would cap a remarkably quick rise for the Brothers of Italy party that Meloni co-founded in December 2012 and that in its first years was considered a fringe movement on the right.

A century after Benito Mussolini’s 1922 March on Rome brought the fascist dictator to power, the Brothers of Italy party won the most votes in Italy’s national election Sunday. Experts cite voter disillusionment rather than ideology.

Sept. 26, 2022

“We have indicated myself as the person who should be mandated to form the new government,’’ Meloni said, flanked by her two main, sometimes troublesome, right-wing allies — Matteo Salvini and former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. “We are ready and we want to move forward in the shortest possible time.”

She cited urgent problems “at both national and international level,” apparent references to soaring energy prices hitting households and businesses and the war in Ukraine, which has seen European Union members divided over strategy amid worries about gas supplies during the approaching winter.


Berlusconi and Salvini stayed silent during Meloni’s brief remarks to reporters. But at one point Berlusconi raised his eyebrows and looked behind her head at Salvini as Meloni spoke.

Both men are longtime admirers of Russian President Vladimir Putin, whereas Meloni has staunchly backed Ukraine in its defense against the Russian invasion. Those differences could make coalition rule challenging.

Giorgia Meloni, who once praised Mussolini, will be Italy’s first female prime minister. Her Brothers of Italy party will face limits to implementing its far-right ideology.

Oct. 1, 2022

Berlusconi, a three-time premier, has been chafing over the election victory by Meloni’s party. The Brothers of Italy took 26%, while Berlusconi’s Forza Italia and the anti-migrant League of Salvini snagged slightly more than 8% apiece in the Sept. 25 election, which saw record low turnout.

In 2018, in the previous election for Parliament, Meloni’s party took slightly more than 4% of the vote.

Still, while her forces are Parliament’s largest, Meloni needs her two allies in order to command a solid majority in the legislature.

Berlusconi, who fancies himself a rare leader on the world stage, recently derided her as “arrogant” in written comments, apparently after Meloni refused to make a lawmaker who is one of the media mogul’s closest advisors a minister.

Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was banned from holding public office for six years following a tax fraud conviction.

Sept. 27, 2022

Earlier this week, in a meeting with his lawmakers, he expressed sympathy for Putin’s motivation for invading Ukraine. In that conversation, which was recorded and leaked to Italian news agency LaPresse, he also bragged that Putin had sent him bottles of vodka for his 86th birthday last month and that he gave the Russian leader bottles of wine while the two exchanged sweetly worded notes.

In response to Berlusconi’s comments, which were also derogatory about Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky, Meloni insisted that anyone joining her government must be solidly in sync with the West in opposing Putin’s war. If that meant her government couldn’t be formed, Meloni said, she’d take that risk.

Salvini has at times also questioned the wisdom of tough Western sanctions against Russia. A fellow lawmaker in Salvini’s League party who was recently elected president of the lower Chamber of Deputies has publicly expressed doubts about continuing the measures.

Outgoing Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s national pandemic unity coalition collapsed in July after Salvini, Berlusconi and Giuseppe Conte, the leader of the populist 5-Star Movement, refused to back his government in a confidence vote. That prompted Mattarella to dissolve parliament and pave the way for elections some six months early.

While final efforts to form the new government were underway, Draghi was in Brussels, attending the final day of a European Council summit, grappling with ways to deal with higher energy prices.

On Thursday, Mattarella received opposition leaders, who raised concerns that Meloni, who campaigned with a “God, homeland, family” agenda, would seek to erode abortion rights and roll back rights such as same-sex civil unions.