EXPLAINED: When will Italy have a new government?

After general elections delivered a win for Giorgia Meloni's Brothers of Italy party, the process of forming the next Italian government begins this week. Here's a look at what's likely to happen and when.

EXPLAINED: When will Italy have a new government?
Leader of Italian far-right party Fratelli d'Italia (Brothers of Italy) Giorgia Meloni is set to form a new government after victory at the September 25 general elections. Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP

A coalition of hard-right political parties led by Giorgia Meloni, set to be the next prime minister, is to take power in Italy after winning historic elections on September 25th. But it might be a while before Meloni and her government actually get to work.

In the two weeks since the election result was made official, there hasn’t been much news on what the incoming government will look like or when it will take office.

READ ALSO: The five biggest challenges facing Italy’s new government

With Meloni in intense talks with political allies on forming her new cabinet, Italian newspapers are full of reports detailing ongoing political spats and backroom deals amid wild speculation about who’ll get which poltrone (seat, or job in government) and which political party will control which ministry. But very little is actually known for sure.

For now, here’s a look at what we do know at this point and what to expect in the coming weeks.

When will the new government take office?

The process of forming the government kicks off on Thursday, October 13th, when parliament reopens and must elect the new Senate and Chamber presidents.

After this, President Sergio Mattarella can begin holding consultations at the Quirinale Palace on who should lead the new government. If all goes smoothly, these consultations could begin as soon as October 17th. 

If, as in this case, there’s a clear election result, the consultations with the president can take as little as two or three days. These conclude with the appointment of a prime minister.

Italian head of state, Sergio Mattarella.

The new Italian prime minister will be elected by the head of state, Sergio Mattarella (pictured above), after a series of consultations. Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP

At this point, the new prime minister will hold their own consultations with parties willing to support a government, and draw up a list of cabinet ministers. This process is likely to take one or two days.

EXPLAINED: What’s behind election success for Italy’s far right?

Once sworn in, the premier then has ten days to win a vote of confidence for their new government from both houses of parliament. When that’s obtained, the new executive is fully operational and can get to work.

Based on this schedule, news reports this week predict Meloni’s cabinet could be in place by the end of October.

In the past it has taken up to 12 weeks for a new administration to take office, amid drawn-out negotiations between the various political parties making up a government.

The time needed for the formation of Meloni’s government is expected to be on the shorter side because her right-wing coalition took a large enough slice of the vote that it won’t need to form unwieldy alliances with parties from the other end of the political spectrum in order to take power.

And there’s no time to waste, as Italy currently faces a long list of major challenges requiring government attention, from the soaring cost of living to the impact of war in Ukraine.

What will the new government look like?

The division of the top jobs – notably economy, foreign affairs, the defence and interior ministries – will always be political but now, more than ever, “will have to reflect areas of expertise”, the La Stampa newspaper noted.

While no names have yet been confirmed, Meloni told a party meeting this week that she aims to create “an authoritative government of a very high level that is based on skills.”

Meloni’s allies have been pitching for heavyweight positions: Matteo Salvini wanting his old job as interior minister back, and Silvio Berlusconi eyeing president of the Senate.

Brothers of Italy leader Giorgia Meloni (L) is tipped to become Italy’s next prime minister as part of a coalition with Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italy and Matteo Salvini’s League. Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP

Their parties’ disappointing performance at election, however, with neither reaching 10 percent while Brothers of Italy’s secured 26 percent, means Meloni is expected to sideline them.

Salvini may instead be given the agricultural ministry, according to reports.

READ ALSO: How could Italy’s new government change the constitution?

Berlusconi ally Antonio Tajani, a former European parliament president, is tipped as possible foreign minister, an appointment which could both appease Berlusconi and assuage international fears that Meloni’s Eurosceptic populist party will pick fights with Brussels.

But as ever in the world of Italian politics, very little can be predicted with any certainty.

See all of The Local’s latest Italian political news here.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Analysis: Could Bolsonaro get Italian citizenship to avoid extradition?

Brazil’s former president may soon face legal charges after last week’s attempted coup. Here’s why he’s considering becoming an Italian citizen to escape extradition from the US.

Analysis: Could Bolsonaro get Italian citizenship to avoid extradition?

Former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has figured heavily in international news lately after hundreds of his supporters stormed government buildings in the capital Brasilia on Sunday, January 8th, in what has now been widely recognised as a failed coup. 

And though there is currently no evidence that Bolsonaro directly ordered Sunday’s insurrection, Brazilian media reports suggest the former president may, in the words of Brazilian Senator Renan Calheiros, have to “answer for his crimes and be interrogated on the terrorist acts he always incited”.

It is precisely the prospect of legal prosecution that, in a turn of events very few would have been able to anticipate, might tie Bolsonaro’s fate to Italy.

Brazilian news media Istoè and O globo both recently reported that Bolsonaro, who has Italian origins, is currently planning on formally requesting Italian citizenship – a process which two of his five sons, Flavio and Eduardo, started back in 2020.

But why would becoming an Italian citizen allow Bolsonaro to evade prosecution in Brazil?

Bolsonaro is currently in Florida, USA, which he entered on December 30th, two days before his successor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, was sworn in as the new Brazilian head of state. 

Aftermath of failed coup in Brasilia, Brazil

Hundreds of Bolsonaro supporters stormed Brasilia, Brazil’s capital, on Sunday, January 8th. Photo by Carl DE SOUZA / AFP

But his position in the US is shaky, to say the least. A single criminal charge – Bolsonaro is already under investigation in at least four pre-coup criminal probes – and sufficient evidence to show probable cause would be enough for the States to accept Brazil’s extradition request. 

Conversely, as an Italian citizen residing in Italy, Bolsonaro would be most likely shielded from extradition as the current agreements between Rome and Brasilia exclude extradition for crimes of political nature and the Italian Constitution (article 26) bans the “extradition of [an Italian] citizen unless international conventions command so”.

So, it seems Bolsonaro would effectively be able to evade prosecution by acquiring Italian citizenship. But should he ultimately choose to request citizenship, how likely is it that he would be successful?

While there’s no way to predict what the final outcome would be, he’d have good chances, at least in theory.

Italy is far more lenient than other countries when it comes to allowing people to claim citizenship via ancestry (also known as ‘right of blood’ or jure sanguinis).

In fact, there are no limits on how far back up the line of descent the applicant’s Italian ancestor is located as long as the Italian national in question was alive on or after March 17th 1861, when the Kingdom of Italy was officially born. 

READ ALSO: Reader question: Will my children get an Italian passport if born in Italy?

Bolsonaro’s paternal great-grandfather, Vittorio Bolzonaro, moved to Brazil from Anguillara Veneta, Veneto in the late 1880s or early 1890s at the very latest.

Other than that, the issue of Italian citizenship is dependent on one remaining condition, namely that no Italian national along the line of descent formally renounced their Italian citizenship prior to the birth of their descendant. 

Italy's foreign minister Antonio Tajani

Italy’s foreign minister Antonio Tajani has recently confirmed that no request for Italian citizenship has been made yet by Bolsonaro. Photo by Daniel MIHAILESCU / AFP

There’s no way to know whether this requirement is actually met in Bolsonaro’s case, though, if it were, his path to acquiring Italian citizenship would be pretty clear. 

As with all things Italian, the process of getting an Italian citizenship application approved is usually very lengthy (taking over three years in most cases). However, there is a ‘fast-track’ option which, while requiring the applicant to relocate to Italy and become a legal resident, cuts overall processing times to around one year. 

So, should Bolsonaro ultimately go for the fast-track route – and provided that he applied immediately and all his documents (including birth, death and marriage certificates of all his relevant ancestors) were in order – the earliest he could become an Italian citizen would be at some point in 2024. 

READ ALSO: What’s the difference between Italian residency and citizenship?

This is of course all purely hypothetical at present, especially as Italy’s foreign minister Antonio Tajani confirmed on Wednesday that Bolsonaro hasn’t (yet) submitted a request for Italian citizenship. 

But the mere prospect of Brazil’s former president applying for citizenship has caused a stir within the Italian political landscape – several left-wing forces have already asked that the request be immediately rejected should it ever come through.

Brazil's former president Jair Bolsonaro in Italy

Bolsonaro already has honorary Italian citizenship, which was granted by the small town of Anguillara Veneta in 2021. Photo by Piero CRUCIATTI / AFP

Some Italian social media users also highlighted the fact that it’s relatively difficult for children born in Italy to foreign parents to obtain Italian citizenship.

“Before (possibly) giving Italian citizenship to the Bolsonaro family you must give it to all children born and living in Italy who wish to be Italian citizens,” said one.

The former president already has honorary Italian citizenship, granted by Anguillara Veneta, the small town Bolsonaro’s great-grandfather originally emigrated from. However, the town’s mayor is now under increasing pressure to revoke it.

Making Bolsonaro an honorary citizen was a “grave error then” but failing to revoke the award after Sunday’s events would be nothing short of “incomprehensible”, stated Veneto regional councillors Vanessa Camani and Andrea Zanoni, both with the Democratic Party.

As for the Italian government, PM Giorgia Meloni took to Twitter on Sunday to condemn the insurrection in Brasilia. However, neither she nor any other member of her cabinet have so far taken a stance on Bolsonaro’s contentious citizenship issue.

Also, at the time of writing, no member of the League, which largely supported Bolsonaro during his tenure as president and praised him as the “pride of Veneto” in October 2018, has spoken out on the topic.

Whether it’s just a bad bout of forgetfulness or deliberate reticence, the silence is deafening.