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POLITICS

Meet the key figures in Italy’s new government

Italy's new government line-up brings a few fresh faces to some of its key seats while retaining most political figures from the previous cabinet in a bid to ensure political stability.

Meet the key figures in Italy's new government
The new cabinet. Photo: AFP

Here are some of those from the centre left-right coalition tasked with key roles in managing a potential banking crisis in the eurozone's third largest economy as well as reforming a key electoral law.

Paolo Gentiloni, prime minister


Photo: AFP

A trusted ally of his predecessor Matteo Renzi. This silver-haired former foreign minister, 62, is a former student radical who comes from a well-to-do Roman family with aristocratic roots.

He is widely seen as having done a good job as foreign minister as Italy has played an unusually proactive role on the world stage, notably in relation to Libya, and in building bridges with Iran after the lifting of international sanctions.

PROFILE: Paolo Gentiloni, a former radical, journalist and 'workaholic'

Angelino Alfano, foreign minister


Photo: AFP

He was interior minister and deputy prime minister under Renzi, and heads up the New Centre Right (NCD) party, the government's coalition partner.

Born in 1970, he was the right-hand man to billionaire former PM Silvio Berlusconi for many years. He made his name as the architect of a law intended to shield Berlusconi from prosecution, but broke all ties with the media magnate in 2013.

Pier Carlo Padoan, finance minister


Photo: AFP

A former chief economist at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the 66-year old also served as the Italian executive director at the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

As finance minister under Renzi, he has been working flat out on a plan to save Italy's third-biggest bank, troubled lender Monte dei Paschi di Siena (BMPS), should it fail to raise the necessary funds to stay afloat. His reappointment is likely to soothe investors worried about contagion.

READ MORE: Here's what you need to know about Italy's banking crisis

Marco Minniti, interior minister

Interior Minister Marco Minniti (R) and Justice Minister Andrea Orlando. Photo: AFP

The 60-year old was the state secretary with responsibility for the security services in the outgoing administration and the one before that. He was deputy interior minister in the Romano Prodi government of 2006 to 2008.

Andrea Orlando, justice minister

The 47-year old, who does not have a university degree, held the post of environment minister under Enrico Letta (2013 to 2014).

When he was appointed justice minister by Renzi, Italian media reports said he was chosen as part of a deal made between Renzi and Berlusconi, because he presented little threat to the media magnate, whose legal troubles were hindering his political career.

Roberta Pinotti, defence minister


Photo: AFP

The 55-year-old former schoolteacher, who stays on in defence, was the first woman to hold the position of president of the Defence Commission in the lower house of parliament.

Valeria Fedeli, education minister


Photo: AFP

The 67-year old is a former trade unionist and deputy speaker in the senate who has campaigned hard to fight violence against women.

Maria Elena Boschi, undersecretary to the PM


Photo: AFP

Boschi was the minister in charge of constitutional reforms under Renzi, and therefore of the very reform that was put to a referendum, and led to his downfall.

The 35-year old is a die-hard Renzi ally and is expected to ensure the former PM's voice is still heard in the new administration.

READ MORE: Start spreading the news – we haven't seen the last of Matteo Renzi

 

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ITALIAN POLITICS

Italian government rocked by Five Star party split

Italy’s government was plunged into turmoil on Tuesday as foreign minister Luigi Di Maio announced he was leaving his party to start a breakaway group.

Italian government rocked by Five Star party split

Di Maio said his decision to leave the Five Star Movement (M5S) – the party he once led – was due to its “ambiguity” over Italy’s support of Ukraine following Russia’s invasion.

He accused the party’s current leader, former prime minister Giuseppe Conte, of undermining the coalition government’s efforts to support Ukraine and weakening Italy’s position within the EU.

“Today’s is a difficult decision I never imagined I would have to take … but today I and lots of other colleagues and friends are leaving the Five Star Movement,” Di Maio told a press conference on Tuesday.

“We are leaving what tomorrow will no longer be the first political force in parliament.”

His announcement came after months of tensions within the party, which has lost most of the popular support that propelled it to power in 2018 and risks being wiped out in national elections due next year.

The split threatens to bring instability to Draghi’s multi-party government, formed in February 2021 after a political crisis toppled the previous coalition.

As many as 60 former Five Star lawmakers have already signed up to Di Maio’s new group, “Together for the Future”, media reports said.

Di Maio played a key role in the rise of the once anti-establishment M5S, but as Italy’s chief diplomat he has embraced Draghi’s more pro-European views.

READ ALSO: How the rebel Five Star Movement joined Italy’s establishment

Despite Italy’s long-standing political and economic ties with Russia, Draghi’s government has taken a strongly pro-NATO stance, sending weapons and cash to help Ukraine while supporting EU sanctions against Russia.

Di Maio backed the premier’s strong support for Ukraine following Russia’s invasion, including sending weapons for Kyiv to defend itself.

In this he has clashed with the head of Five Star, former premier Giuseppe Conte, who argues that Italy should focus on a diplomatic solution.

Di Maio attacked his former party without naming Conte, saying: “In these months, the main political force in parliament had the duty to support the diplomacy of the government and avoid ambiguity. But this was not the case,” he said.

Luigi Di Maio (R) applauds after Prime Minister Mario Draghi (L) addresses the Italian Senate on June 21st, 2022. Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP

“In this historic moment, support of European and Atlanticist values cannot be a mistake,” he added.

The Five Star Movement, he said, had risked the stability of the government “just to try to regain a few percentage points, without even succeeding”.

But a majority of lawmakers – including from the Five Star Movement – backed Draghi’s approach in March and again in a Senate vote on Tuesday.

Draghi earlier on Tuesday made clear his course was set.

“Italy will continue to work with the European Union and with our G7 partners to support Ukraine, to seek peace, to overcome this crisis,” he told the Senate, with Di Maio at his side.

“This is the mandate the government has received from parliament, from you. This is the guide for our action.”

The Five Star Movement stormed to power in 2018 general elections after winning a third of the vote on an anti-establishment ticket, and stayed in office even after Draghi was parachuted in to lead Italy in February 2021.

But while it once threatened to upend the political order in Italy, defections, policy U-turns and dismal polling have left it struggling for relevance.

“Today ends the story of the Five Star Movement,” tweeted former premier Matteo Renzi, who brought down the last Conte government by withdrawing his support.

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