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ITALIAN ELECTIONS

TIMELINE: What happens next after Italy’s historic elections?

A hard-right coalition led by Giorgia Meloni is set to take power in Italy after Sunday's historic elections. But it might be a while before Meloni and her government actually get to work.

TIMELINE: What happens next after Italy's historic elections?
Next steps after Italy elections. (Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP)

A coalition led by far-right leader Giorgia Meloni is on course to win a parliamentary majority in Italian elections, but forming a government can be a lengthy business.

READ ALSO: Giorgia Meloni’s far right triumphs in Italy’s elections

In the past, it has taken anything between four and 12 weeks for a new administration to take office.

Here is what will happen next in Italy if previous elections are anything to go by.

Official results 

While exit polls were published after voting ended at 11 pm on Sunday night and projections followed early on Monday morning, the interior ministry will not issue official results until during the day on Monday.

President of the Italian Senate Maria Elisabetta Alberti Casellati (C) reads the results of the vote in the Senate hall after a vote of confidence to the prime minister at Palazzo Madama in Rome on July 14, 2022.

The new Italian parliament will have to convene no later than October 15th. Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP

This will depend on the number of votes to be counted but turnout appeared to be down on the 2018 vote.

Parliament meets

The Italian constitution requires that newly elected members of the two houses of parliament, the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies, meet no later than 20 days after elections.

This would put their first gathering no later than October 15.

At this time, each chamber must elect a president and only then can the process of nominating members of a government begin.

President leads negotiations

President Sergio Mattarella will begin consultations on who should lead the new government with the Senate and Chamber presidents, the leaders of the main parties and eventually the parliamentary groups.

If the result of the election is clear, these consultations will be fairly short, perhaps two days, though they could also last up to a week.

Then Mattarella, elected by parliament to a second seven-year term as head of state earlier this year, will nominate a prime minister.

READ ALSO: PROFILE: Who is Giorgia Meloni, Italy’s likely next prime minister?

Leader of Italian far-right party "Fratelli d'Italia" (Brothers of Italy), Giorgia Meloni holds a placard reading "Thank You Italy" after she delivered an address at her party's campaign headquarters overnight on September 26, 2022 in Rome.

Far-right leader Giorgia Meloni will likely be Italy’s new prime minister. Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP

This person will accept the mandate to form a new government “with reservations” and begin talks with allies on ministerial appointments and a joint programme.

At the end of these discussions, if all goes well, the prospective premier will return to Mattarella and “lift their reservations”.

Finally a government

The new government is announced and sworn in before the president the same day or the next. The prime minister and their ministers then go to the seat of the executive, Palazzo Chigi, for the handover of power.

READ ALSO: EU sees trouble but no breakdown if Italy’s far right takes power

Silvio Berlusconi only needed 24 days in 2008 to take office, while it took 89 for Giuseppe Conte in 2018.

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MIGRANT CRISIS

EU ministers hold crisis talks after migrant ship row between Italy and France

European interior ministers met in Brussels on Friday to discuss the latest migrant crisis – a move that was precipitated by Italy's controversial clash with France over the handling of refugees.

EU ministers hold crisis talks after migrant ship row between Italy and France

European interior ministers gathered for crisis talks on Friday as an ugly row between Paris and Rome over how to handle would-be refugees forced a EU migration reform back onto their agenda.

New arrival numbers haven’t yet hit the levels of 2015 and 2016, but European capitals are concerned about new pressure on sea routes from North Africa and overland through the western Balkans.

And now, with winter temperatures descending in eastern Europe and Ukrainian cities facing power cuts under Russian bombardment, the European Union is braced for many more war refugees.

The bloc has been struggling for years to agree and implement a new policy for sharing responsibility for migrants and asylum seekers, but a new dispute has brought the issue to the fore.

READ ALSO: Why are France and Italy rowing over migrants and what are the consequences?

Earlier this month, Italy’s new government under far-right leader Georgia Meloni refused to allow a Norwegian-flagged NGO ship to dock with 234 migrants rescued from the Mediterranean.

The Ocean Viking eventually continued on to France, where authorities reacted with fury to Rome’s stance, suspending an earlier deal to take in 3,500 asylum seekers stranded in Italy.

The row undermined the EU’s stop-gap interim solution to the problem, and Paris called Friday’s extraordinary meeting of interior ministers from the 27 member states.

Migrants in Lampedusa, Italy

Earlier this month, France suspended a deal by which it would take as many as 3,500 refugees stranded in Italy. Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP

Complaints from Mediterranean countries closer to North African shores like Italy and Greece that they were shouldering too much responsibility for migrants led to the previous plan.

A dozen EU members agreed to take on 8,000 asylum seekers – with France and Germany taking 3,500 each – but so far just 117 relocations have taken place.

‘Nothing new’

After Italy refused responsibility for the Ocean Viking, France has declared that it no longer wants to not only allow ships to arrive from Italian waters but also take in thousands of other migrants.

On Monday, in a bid to revive the mechanism, the European Commission unveiled another action plan to better regulate arrivals on the central Mediterranean route.

“Obviously the meeting was set up following the spat between Italy and France over the migrants aboard the Ocean Viking,” a European diplomat said.

“The action plan that was shared with member states is perfectly fine, but contains nothing new, so it isn’t going to solve the migration issue.”

Stephanie Pope, an expert on migration for the aid agency Oxfam, dubbed Brussels’ plan “just another reshuffle of old ideas that do not work”. 

“It is a waste of time,” she said.

The plan would see a closer coordination between EU national authorities and humanitarian NGOs on rescues of migrants whose make-shift, overcrowded boats are in difficulty.

And it would see Brussels work more closely with Tunisia, Libya and Egypt to try to stop undocumented migrants boarding smuggler vessels in the first place.

READ ALSO: Italy arrests suspected trafficker over deaths of seven migrants

France would like a new framework within which NGO boats could operate – neither a total ban nor a carte blanche to import would-be refugees.

Italy, Greece, Malta and Cyprus often accuse the humanitarian charities of operating without respect to national authorities and of effectively encouraging immigration.

Migrants on a boat arriving in Italy

Italy, Greece, Malta and Cyprus often accuse NGOs of operating with disregard to national authorities. Photo by Gianluca CHININEA / AFP

Other member states, including Germany, argue that there can be no limits on humanitarian operations – all seafarers are obliged by the law of the sea to save travellers in danger. 

Ahead of the talks, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, warned: “With almost 2,000 people having already died or gone missing so far this year alone, urgent action is needed.”

Grandi welcomed the European Commission’s draft plan for state-led rescues and predictable ports of disembarkation, adding: “While states point fingers and trade blame, lives are lost.”

Border force

While France and Italy argue about high-profile cases of dramatic rescues in the central Mediterranean, other EU capitals are more concerned about land routes through the Balkans.

Almost 130,000 undocumented migrants are estimated to have come to the bloc since the start of the year, an increase of 160 percent, according to the EU border force Frontex.

On Thursday, the Czech, Austrian, Slovak and Hungarian ministers met in Prague ahead of the trip to Brussels to stress that this route accounts for more than half of “illegal arrivals” in the bloc.

Austrian interior minister Gerhard Karner said the EU should finance border protection and give members “a legal tool to return people who come for economic reasons”.

Diplomats said France and Italy would try to dominate the talks with complaints about sea arrivals, while Greece and Cyprus would point fingers at Turkey for allegedly facilitating illegal entries.

Central and eastern countries would focus on the Balkans route and, as one diplomat said, “Hungary and Poland don’t want anything to do with anything in the field of migration.”

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