EXPLAINER: Rituals play role in creating Italian government

Oct 12, 2022, 11:56 PM | Updated: Oct 13, 2022, 6:29 am

FILE - A view of the hemicycle inside Italy's Lower Chamber Montecitorio Palace, in Rome, Wednesday...

FILE - A view of the hemicycle inside Italy's Lower Chamber Montecitorio Palace, in Rome, Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020. Forming a new government in Italy involves time and decades-old rituals, so although far-right leader Giorgia Meloni emerged as the clear winner in elections last month, the process of getting a new ruling coalition up and running will take time, maybe weeks. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini, File)

(AP Photo/Andrew Medichini, File)

ROME (AP) — With its dozens of “revolving door” governments, Italy might give the impression that carving out new ruling coalitions is quick work. But the process can take weeks, even months.

On Thursday, when newly elected lawmakers took their seats, the work of giving the country a new government formally began.

Giorgia Meloni, who scored a solid victory in the Sept. 25 election, is well-positioned to become the first far-right leader of an Italian government since the end of World War II and the first female premier. A number of rituals must happen first though.


Italy’s governments require the backing of Parliament. Before a new ruling coalition can be formed, newly elected lawmakers must take their seats in the legislature within 20 days of an election. On Thursday, both the Senate, Parliament’s upper chamber, and the lower Chamber of Deputies, will hold their first session since the election.

This time, there will be fewer lawmakers. Under a reform to streamline the legislature and reduce spending, the new Senate now has 200 members, down from 315, and the Chamber of Deputies has 400 instead of 630. Their main order of business is electing each chamber’s president.

On Thursday, Ignazio La Russa of Meloni’s far-right Brothers of Italy party was elected Senate president; the chamber president is expected to be elected by Friday.


After parliamentary elections, Italy’s president, as head of state, has to task someone with trying to cobble together a government — formally called “conferring a mandate.”

The clear winner of last month’s election was the far-right Brothers of Italy leader Meloni.

With her main coalition partners – Matteo Salvini’s League and former Premier Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia — Meloni should be able to command a comfortable majority in Parliament.

But before President Sergio Mattarella asks Meloni to see if she can assemble a viable coalition, he is expected — but not obliged — to hold a round of consultations with party leaders, including from the potential opposition. Those huddles could take two or three days.


Barring surprises, the presidential Quirinal Palace will announce that Meloni has accepted “with reservation” the task of trying to create a new government. But that doesn’t mean she has any doubts she’ll succeed — it’s a customary phrase.


Once tapped, Meloni and her allied leaders will confer — separately or together — on how to divvy up Cabinet posts. That’s where it can get sticky, as each party jockeys for the most high-profile ministries.

Since Meloni’s party won a bigger share of the votes than Salvini’s and Berlusconi’s forces put together, her campaign allies will have somewhat limited bargaining power.

Tensions were already apparent on Thursday during the election for Senate president: Most Forza Italia senators didn’t cast votes, depriving Meloni’s candidate, La Russa, of a wide margin of victory. The opposition reveled in their rivals’ apparent lack of cohesion.


Once Meloni is confident that she has nailed down a solid Cabinet that will pass Mattarella’s muster, she’ll meet with him to present her list of ministers.

Any disagreement over names is usually dealt with outside of the public eye. But after the 2018 election, Mattarella vetoed the pick of a euroskeptic economist for finance minister. That veto angered the coalition’s populist leaders, but ultimately forced selection of another minister acceptable to the president.


Should Meloni succeed in forming a Cabinet, as journalists wait in the hilltop Quirinal Palace and a pair of helmeted Corazzieri Carabinieri stand guard, the palace secretary general will emerge and announce that the political leader has “dissolved the reservation” — a formulaic way of saying she has formed a government. Generally, the premier-to-be then makes a brief statement and reads out the names of the Cabinet ministers.


Then it’s back to the Quirinal Palace — usually the next day — for the new government’s swearing-in ceremony. The new premier and each minister pledge to be faithful to the republic, to loyally observe its constitution and laws and to exercise their powers “in the exclusive interest of the nation.”


After the oath-taking, the new premier heads a few blocks away to Chigi Palace, the premier’s office, for an official photo. The outgoing premier hands the incoming one the bell used to open Cabinet meetings.

Usually they smile for the photo. But in 2014, as he handed over the bell, outgoing Premier Enrico Letta refused to smile or even look at newly-minted Premier Matteo Renzi, who had ousted him from office through backroom party maneuvers.


Italy’s constitution requires all new governments to face a confidence vote in each chamber of Parliament within 10 days of the Cabinet’s formation. Only then is the government considered to be fully in power.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Police clear the area following a shooting at the Kansas City Chiefs NFL football Super Bowl celebr...

Associated Press

1 dead, many wounded after shooting at Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl victory parade

One person died after 22 people were hit by gunfire in a shooting at the end of the Kansas Chiefs' Super Bowl victory celebration Wednesday.

7 days ago

This image from House Television shows House Speaker Mike Johnson of La., banging the gavel after h...

Associated Press

GOP-led House impeaches Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas — by one vote — over border management

Having failed to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas the first time, House Republicans are determined to try again Tuesday.

8 days ago

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, right, and Kenya's Defense Minister Aden Duale, left, listen during...

Associated Press

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin hospitalized with bladder issue

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has been hospitalized following symptoms pointing to an “emergent bladder issue."

10 days ago

Joel Osteen, the pastor of Lakewood Church, stands with his wife, Victoria Osteen, as he conducts a...

Associated Press

Woman firing rifle killed by 2 off-duty officers at Houston’s Lakewood Church run by Joel Osteen

A woman entered the Texas megachurch of Joel Osteen and started shooting with a rifle Sunday and was killed by two off-duty officers.

10 days ago

(Pexels photo)...

Associated Press

Baby in Kansas City, Missouri, dies after her mother mistakenly put her in an oven

An infant in Missouri died when her mother mistakenly put her down for a nap in an oven, a prosecutor said Saturday.

11 days ago

Former Arizona Department of Corrections boss Charles Ryan received probation on Feb. 9, 2024. (AP ...

Associated Press

Former Arizona corrections boss sentenced to probation over armed 2022 standoff with police

Former Arizona Corrections Director Charles Ryan was sentenced Friday to probation for his no-contest plea to a disorderly conduct charge stemming from a 2022 armed standoff at his Tempe home.

12 days ago

Sponsored Articles


DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.


Fiesta Bowl Foundation

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade is excitingly upon us

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe is upon us! The attraction honors Arizona and the history of the game.


Canvas Annuity

Interest rates may have peaked. Should you buy a CD, high-yield savings account, or a fixed annuity?

Interest rates are the highest they’ve been in decades, and it looks like the Fed has paused hikes. This may be the best time to lock in rates for long-term, low-risk financial products like fixed annuities.

EXPLAINER: Rituals play role in creating Italian government