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‘Buon lavoro’: Italian prime minister congratulates US President Biden

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Wednesday said Italy "stands ready to face the challenges of our common international agenda together with the United States."

'Buon lavoro': Italian prime minister congratulates US President Biden
US President Joe Biden delivers his inaugural address at the Capitol on January 20th, 2021. Photo: Getty Images via AFP
Following the inauguration on Wednesday of the 46th President of the United States, Joe Biden, and Vice-President Kamala Harris, Conte sent them his best wishes in facing the tasks ahead.
 
“Best wishes for your work to President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris,” Conte tweeted. “This is a great day for democracy, reaching far beyond the American borders.”
 
“Italy stands ready to face the challenges of our common international agenda together with the United States.”
 

 
The Italian phrase 'buon lavoro' is used to wish someone future success in their work.
 
Nicola Zingaretti, leader of the Democratic Party (PD) which forms part of Italy's ruling coalition government, wrote a letter of congratulations to President Biden on Wednesday in which he said he hoped the two countries could “work together to put the planet, people and prosperity at the centre”.
 
“Your announcement of the re-entry of the United States into the Paris agreement on climate change is excellent news,” Zingaretti wrote.
 
Pope Francis later on Wednesday evening urged new US President Joe Biden to promote “reconciliation and peace” around the world.
 
“At a time when the grave crises facing our human family call for far-sighted and united responses, I pray that your decisions will be guided by
a concern for building a society marked by authentic justice and freedom,” the pope said in a statement.

 
Kamala Harris is sworn in as US Vice President at the Capitol on January 20th, 2021. Photo: Getty Images via AFP
 
Italy's political leaders have not made any reference to former president Donald Trump in their responses to the US election results or Biden's inauguration.
 
Some European leaders, however, made their feelings about the end of Trump's presidency clear.
 
“Once again, after four long years, Europe has a friend in the White House,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Wednesday.
 
“This new dawn in America is the moment we've been waiting for so long. Europe is ready for a new start with our oldest and most trusted partner,” she said at the European Parliament in Brussels.

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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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