Italy government

Berlusconi renews demands as Italian government takes shape

  • Berlusconi, judged, says he wants the Ministry of Justice
  • Giorgetti of the League well placed to lead the Treasury
  • The new government could be sworn in next week

ROME, Oct 18 (Reuters) – Italy’s next cabinet is gradually taking shape as right-wing leader Giorgia Meloni, who is expected to be appointed prime minister, negotiates key government posts with coalition allies.

Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party led a right-wing alliance comprising Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia and Matteo Salvini’s League to victory in last month’s elections, promising political stability in the country after years of short duration.

Disputes between Meloni and Berlusconi over the cabinet position appeared to have eased after a meeting on Monday, but Berlusconi reiterated on Tuesday a demand that his party get the Justice Department, potentially reigniting tensions.

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Senior coalition officials say they hope the new government can be sworn in as early as next week.

Forza Italia is expected to take the foreign ministry with Antonio Tajani, a career politician and close aide to Berlusconi who briefly served as president of the European Parliament, a source said.

League leader Salvini is set to be infrastructure minister, sources have said, while the interior minister post he originally sought could go to a technocrat close to him.

Berlusconi said on Tuesday that Tajani and Salvini would serve as deputy prime ministers and announced that Elisabetta Casellati, former Senate president and prominent Forza Italia politician, would serve as justice minister.

BERLUSCONI ON TRIAL

His claim on the Department of Justice is controversial. He is currently on trial for bribing witnesses in a previous case, in which he was acquitted in 2014 of paying to have sex with an underage prostitute. He denies any wrongdoing.

There was no immediate comment from Meloni, who Berlusconi said would prefer to see the job go to former prosecutor Carlo Nordio, a Brethren lawmaker from Italy.

Giancarlo Giorgetti, Minister of Industry for the League party in the outgoing government of Mario Draghi, seemed well placed to become Minister of the Economy. He is considered one of the most moderate and pro-European figures in the League. Read more

Giorgetti will have to find a balance between the financial stability of the third largest economy in the euro zone, whose public debt represents around 145% of national production, and the coalition’s promises of tax cuts.

Italy will also have to battle record inflation and soaring energy costs that are hurting businesses and families. According to coalition sources, energy issues should remain in the hands of the Ministry of Ecological Transition.

The favorite to succeed technocrat Roberto Cingolani in this post is Gilberto Pichetto Fratin, a coalition source said. Pichetto Fratin is a longtime Forza Italia politician who served as deputy industry minister in the outgoing administration.

The Ministry of Defense is another key position with the ongoing war in Ukraine. Brothers of Italy Adolfo Urso, former head of the parliamentary security committee, is the favorite for the post, a source said.

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Reporting by Angelo Amante and Giuseppe Fonte, Editing by Keith Weir and Ed Osmond

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