Here is Italy’s new cabinet in full

Italy swore in a new government on Friday, after months of uncertainty. Here's who's in it and what they'll be doing.

Here is Italy's new cabinet in full
Italy's new cabinet at the presidential palace on Friday. Photo: Italian Presidency Press Office/AFP

Prime Minister: Giuseppe Conte (unelected)

Conte, 53, was plucked from relative obscurity by the Five Star Movement (M5S), first during the election campaign as the potential figurehead of its drive to reform Italy's bureaucracy, then months later as its nominee for prime minister once both parties agreed not to install their own leaders as PM. The law professor has a long (and possibly inflated) CV in academia and legal affairs, but zero experience in public office. The leaders of the M5S and League will serve as his joint deputies.

READ MORE: Who is Giuseppe Conte, the political novice made Italy's populist PM?

Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP

Minister of Economic Development, Labour and Social Policy, Deputy Prime Minister: Luigi Di Maio (M5S)

Just 31 years old, M5S leader Di Maio at one point looked to be Italy's youngest ever prime minister after his party won the largest standalone share of the vote in March's election. Yet his coalition partner, the League, wouldn't stand for it and instead Di Maio finds himself with the economic development portfolio – crucial to the Five Star Movement's proposals to reverse austerity measures and boost benefits. 

READ MORE: Luigi Di Maio, the face of Italian populism

Photo: Piero Cruciatti/AFP

Interior Minister, Deputy Prime Minister: Matteo Salvini (League)

The League's party leader, Salvini renounced his ambition – for now – to be Italy's prime minister and settles for the Interior Ministry. The role puts him in charge of Italy's immigration policies, which he has long denounced as too liberal. Salvini, 45, has promised to crack down on illegal immigration to Italy and drastically speed up the process of deporting those who have already arrived.

READ MORE: Matteo Salvini, Italy's rebranded nationalist

Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

Finance Minister: Giovanni Tria (unelected)

Tria, 69, is the coalition's compromise solution after President Sergio Mattarella vetoed their first choice to fill the crucial position, Paolo Savona (now moved to European Affairs). Unlike him, Tria believes that Italy is better off remaining in the euro, though has called for reforms to the single currency. The political economist favours the League's heavily simplified tax rate, but has expressed concern about the M5S's plans to introduce a form of universal basic income.

READ ALSO: Giovanni Tria, Italy's pro-euro finance minister

Foreign Minister: Enzo Moavero Milanese (unelected)

The coalition's top diplomat is a Brussels insider: Milanese, 63, twice served as Italy's minister of European Affairs and before that spent two decades in the European Commission. A professor of law, he is considered a deft and courteous negotiator.

Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP 

Justice Minister: Alfonso Bonafede (M5S)

Bonafede, 41, has been nicknamed the “Mr Wolf” of the Five Star Movement: a close personal ally of Di Maio, he is considered the M5S leader's most faithful fixer and guard dog. Born in Sicily but representing Tuscany in parliament, he has a background in jurisprudence.

European Affairs Minister: Paolo Savona (unelected)

Savona, 81, picks up the Europe portfolio after being switched from Finance. The economist and one-time trade minister is a vigorous critic of the European Union and its single currency but claims he's not Europhobic; rather, he says, he wants to oppose “the elites who run it” rather than a united Europe itself. 

READ MORE: Paolo Savona, the eurosceptic to oversee Italy's relations with Europe

Photo: Fabio Frustaci/AFP

Defence Minister: Elisabetta Trenta (unelected)

Trenta, 50, is Italy's second ever female defence minister. A political scientist specialized in international cooperation, intelligence and security, she was selected for the post by the M5S even before the election. Trenta has previously advised the Italian government on Iraq and Libya, as well as serving as a reserve in the Italian army, and has said that she wants to modernize Italy's armed forces and better equip them to deal with changing threats.

Health Minister: Giulia Grillo (M5S)

With a degree in medicine, Grillo, 43, will go some way to reassure those who feared that the M5S-League government would indulge anti-vaccination activists – but not entirely. While she is unequivocally in favour of vaccines, she has said that Italy's current law making shots compulsory for schoolchildren risks doing more harm than good, and has called for a different approach. 

Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP

Environment Minister: Sergio Costa (unelected)

Costa, 59, is another Five Star nominee picked from outside the world of politics. A former carabinieri officer and regional commander of the Forestry Police, he is best known for his efforts to investigate widespread illegal waste dumping in and around Naples

Education Minister: Marco Bussetti (unelected)

Bussetti, 56, is another technocrat but this time one picked by the League. Like Salvini, with whom he appears in numerous Facebook photos, he is from Lombardy. He has spent much of his career studying and teaching at schools and universities in Milan, including as a sports instructor.

Agriculture Minister: Gian Marco Centinaio (League)

In many respects Centinaio's biography resembles Salvini's: entering northern politics as a teenager, 46-year-old Centinaio has belonged to the League for most of his adult life and espouses some of its most hardline views, including opposing the reform of Italy's citizenship laws and advocating mass deportation of immigrants. He was once famously recorded calling the Sicilian-born speaker of the senate a “shitty peasant”.

Centinaio (L) with Salvini in parliament. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

Regional Affairs Minister: Erika Stefani (League)

Stefani, 47, is a two-time senator and long-term member of the League. She'll represent the party's traditional ideals of federalism and regional autonomy. 

Minister for the South: Barbara Lezzi (M5S)

Puglia-born Lezzi, 46, will defend the interests of Italy's impoverished south, where the M5S picked up the bulk of its votes. She's the first minister dedicated exclusively to the region, which has previously been included in the more general Regional Affairs portfolio. The senator was criticized before the election for failing to pay back all her parliamentary expenses, as M5S requires of its lawmakers, but put it down to oversight.

Infrastructure and Transport Minister: Danilo Toninelli (M5S)

Currently the M5S's party whip in the senate, 44-year-old Toninelli has accompanied Di Maio to many of the coalition talks at the presidential palace. He is another of the party leader's allies and will be responsible for sensitive matters like the construction of a controversial cross-border train line between Turin and Lyon, which the M5S has traditionally opposed but will face pressure from the League to accept. 

Toninelli (L) behind Di Maio at the presidential palace. Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

Families and Disabilities Minister: Lorenzo Fontana (League)

Catholic, conservative Fontana is a League die-hard who opposes abortion and euthanasia and has called same-sex marriage a threat to Italy's “community and traditions”. He was one of those calling for terminally ill British boy Alfie Evans to be brought to Italy for further care when doctors in the UK judged that nothing more could be done to save him.  

Public Administration Minister: Giulia Bongiorno (League)

Top criminal lawyer Bongiorno, 52, has successfully defended a string of high-profile clients, including former prime minister Giulio Andreotti and Raffaele Sollecito, accused of helping murder British student Meredith Kercher. She also co-founded an organization to assist women subjected to harassment. Having previously represented other right-wing parties, she joined the League ahead of this year's vote, in which she was elected to the senate. 

Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

Culture and Tourism Minister: Alberto Bonisoli (unelected)

Bonisoli, 57, ran unsuccessfully for the M5S in the last election. His day job is director of an art school in Milan, and he has promised to seek greater investment in arts and culture as well as focussing on attracting “quality tourism” to Italy.

Minister for Parliamentary Relations and Direct Democracy: Riccardo Fraccaro (M5S)

A prominent lawmaker within the M5S, Fraccaro, 37, will take charge of the party's efforts to root out corruption and red tape within parliament. He has already promised to cut the annuities paid out to lawmakers for life, which he calls “anachronistic and unacceptable”. He is the first minister to be charged with handling “direct democracy” in the history of Italy's government.

Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP


Italian elections: What’s the difference between a majority and ‘super majority’?

Italy's elections on Sunday are expected to produce a far-right government, but how big a majority will it have and what difference does this make? Here's what you need to know.

Italian elections: What's the difference between a majority and 'super majority'?

The right-wing alliance of parties led by Giorgia Meloni’s post-fascist Brothers of Italy is expected to win the September 25th general election by a landslide. 

In fact, the question many people have been asking for a while now is not whether the right will win, but by how much.

READ ALSO: Far-right Brothers of Italy eyes historic victory as Italy votes

The right-wing bloc, led by Meloni’s post-fascist Brothers of Italy and also including Matteo Salvini’s League and Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, is expected to easily win a big enough share of the vote to take a majority of the seats in both houses of parliament and form a government.

But will they win a simple majority or a ‘super majority’? Here’s a quick guide to how the system works, what the difference is, and why it matters so much.

What’s a simple majority?

A government with a simple majority has the support of just over half of either the Senate or the Lower House – so at least 201 seats in the House and 101 in the Senate (not counting the six senators for life).

Getting a large enough share of the vote to ensure this is already quite an achievement in Italy, where the electoral system is set up to favour coalition governments precisely in order to stop any one party from ending up with too much power (it was, after all, designed after WW2 and the fall of Mussolini’s Fascist regime).

READ ALSO: Is Brothers of Italy a ‘far right’ party?

So under this system, the party that takes the largest share of the vote still needs help – a coalition partner, or several – to get a majority of seats in parliament and form a workable government. This usually requires major compromise and sees parties striking difficult bargains with others from across the political spectrum.

This time, the right-wing alliance looks more than likely to win by a landslide and take a majority between them – in which case it won’t need to seek outside support.

Some political analysts predict that Meloni and Salvini’s parties will win enough seats to form a government on their own, without involving Berlusoni’s more moderate party. They might choose to join forces anyway – but the more parties involved, the less stable a government is.

And, with a smaller number of parties involved, it would basically be easier for a government to pass the laws it wants to pass. (That is of course discounting the still enormous potential for bickering and power plays between even just a few coalition partners.)

So what’s a super majority?

Known more officially in Italy as a maggioranza speciale o qualificate (special or qualified majority) a ‘super majority’ is a two-thirds majority of the seats in both houses of parliament.

The prospect of Italy’s right-wing parties reaching this threshold has been hotly discussed in the media, since a government with such a large majority would be able to make changes to the political system itself, and therefore the constitution, without consulting voters via a referendum.

EXPLAINED: Who’s who in Italy’s general election?

A political force achieving a majority large enough to change the constitution would be unprecedented in Italy’s postwar history, and could bring major changes to the country’s political system – including to how the president is elected, or the powers the prime minister has.

and right-wing parties Brothers of Italy (Fratelli d'Italia, FdI), the League (Lega) and Forza Italia at Piazza del Popolo in Rome, ahead of the September 25 general election.

Forza Italia leader Silvio Berlusconi (centre), set to return to government with Matteo Salvini and Giorgia Meloni. Will they be forming a governmnt together after this election? Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP

All three leaders of the right-wing alliance have called for Italy to adopt a ‘French-style’ system which would mean the president is directly elected by voters,, instead of by lawmakers as is currently the case. This would mean changing the constitution.

Which scenario is likely?

If the most recent polls are to be believed, the right is on course to easily win a simple majority and possibly go on to reach the two-thirds threshold.

Talk of a super majority came about as the last polls (published two weeks before election day, when a polling blackout began) showed the right-wing alliance was just two or three percent away from achieving the share of the vote needed to give it a ‘super’ or qualified majority of the seats in both houses of parliament.

The right was polling 19 percent ahead of the centre-left bloc, and will need a lead of at least 21-22 percent to secure a qualified majority in both houses, according to projections by Youtrend/CattaneoZanetto & Co.

READ ALSO: An introductory guide to the Italian political system

A two-thirds majority is “possible” for the center-right “if the advantage in both chambers is around 21-22 percent,” Youtrend’s analysis explains.

Such a majority then becomes “probable” with “an advantage over the center-left of more than + 26 percent”, it says.

The winning alliance will need a majority in both houses of parliament, the Chamber of Deputies and Senate, and taking a majority in the Senate is forecast to be more of a challenge.

Recent reforms mean parliament has shrunk by a third: there will now be 400 MPs in the Chamber instead of up to 630, and 200 Senators instead of 315.

A view of the Italian Chamber of Deputies.

Following constitutional reform in 2020, the number of deputies will go from 630 to 400 in the upcoming elections. Photo by Yara NARDI / AFP

Italy has a fiendishly complicated hybrid voting system: about 36 percent of seats in both houses of parliament are allocated in a first-past-the-post vote in single-member constituencies, while the rest are elected by proportional representation via party lists of candidates.

If you want to see what this looks like, try out Sky TG24’s seggiometro, or ‘seatometer’, which allows you to visualise how different election results would translate to seats in parliament.

Is there any chance of a surprise result?

This definitely hasn’t been an election campaign that has kept us on the edge of our seats. The right-wing bloc led by Giorgia Meloni has been expected to win all along – but voter sentiment has apparently shifted somewhat in the two weeks since polling blackout began.

Since the publication of opinion polls ended, support for the left-leaning Five Star Movement appears to have surged while the hard-right League is flagging, according to pollsters interviewed by Reuters this week.

Most said the prediction that the right will take a majority in both houses of parliament and form the next government remains by far the most likely outcome, even if it has been thrown into doubt somewhat by Five Star’s rise.

With Italy’s famously unpredictable politics, and many voters expected to make their minds up only on the day itself, nothing can ever really be ruled out.