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.

GETTING SEATED IN PARLIAMENT

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.

MAKING THE ROUNDS

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.

“WITH RESERVATION”

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.

BEHIND CLOSED DOORS

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.

REPORT TIME

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.

UNVEILING

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.

IT’S OFFICIAL

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.”

PASS THAT BELL

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.

FULL POWERS

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.


              FILE - Italy's Premier Mario Draghi addresses the Senate in Rome Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021, before submitting his government to a vote of confidence. 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. (Yara Nardi/Pool via AP, File)
            
              FILE - New Italian Premier Mario Draghi presides over his first cabinet of ministers reunion after the swearing-in ceremony, at Chigi Palace Premier's office, in Rome, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021. 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)
            
              FILE - Ministers of the new Italian government pose for the official photo during a swearing-in ceremony at the Quirinale Presidential Palace, in Rome, Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019. 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)
            
              FILE - Italian outgoing Premier Enrico Letta, left, hands over the cabinet minister bell to new Premier Matteo Renzi during the handover ceremony at Chigi Palace Premier's office, in Rome, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014. 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/Riccardo De Luca, File)
            
              FILE - Ministers of the new Italian government pose for the official photo during a swearing-in ceremony at the Quirinale Presidential Palace, in Rome, Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019. 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)
            
              FILE - From left, Fratelli d'Italia (Brothers of Italy) party's spokesman Guido Crosetto and lawmakers Giorgia Meloni and Ignazio La Russa meet journalists after talks with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, at the Quirinale presidential palace, in Rome, Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014. 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/Riccardo De Luca, File)
            
              FILE - Presidential guards wait for Giuseppe Conte to arrive and brief the media after meeting with Italian president Sergio Mattarella, at the Quirinale presidential palace in Rome, Wednesday, May 23, 2018. 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/Gregorio Borgia, File)
            
              FILE - An unidentified lawmaker casts his ballot during the fifth round of voting to elect a new Italian head of state, at the Lower Chamber, in Rome Saturday, April 20, 2013. 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/Alessandra Tarantino, File)
            
              FILE - Brothers of Italy's Giorgia Meloni walks out of the ballot box to cast her vote to elect the Lower Chamber president during the first session of parliament at the Lower Chamber, in Rome, Friday, March 23, 2018. 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)
            
              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

Protesters hold up blank white papers during a commemoration for victims of a recent Urumqi deadly ...
Associated Press

Chinese university students sent home amid protests

BEIJING (AP) — Chinese universities are sending students home as the ruling Communist Party tightens anti-virus controls and tries to prevent more protests after crowds angered by its severe “zero COVID” restrictions called for President Xi Jinping to resign in the biggest show of public dissent in decades. With police out in force, there was […]
1 day ago
South Carolina Rep. Jerry Govan, D-Orangeburg, looks over a map during a House redistricting commit...
Associated Press

S. Carolina’s US House maps under scrutiny because of race

TO MOVE AT 1 AM EST TUESDAY. EDITED by LJAW; BACKREAD by JSC. A trial to determine whether South Carolina’s congressional maps are legal closes Tuesday with arguments over whether the state Legislature diluted Black voting power by remaking the boundaries of the only U.S. House district Democrats have flipped in more than 30 years. […]
1 day ago
FILE - This photo provided by the Missouri Department of Corrections shows Kevin Johnson.  A federa...
Associated Press

Missouri prepares to execute man for killing officer in 2005

FOR MOVEMENT TUESDAY AT 1 AM ET. EDITED BY CBLAKE. A Missouri inmate convicted of ambushing and killing a St. Louis area police officer he blamed in the death of his younger brother was scheduled to be executed Tuesday, though his lawyers are seeking to have the lethal injection halted. Kevin Johnson’s legal team doesn’t […]
1 day ago
In this aerial photo released by the U.S. Geological Survey, the Mauna Loa volcano is seen erupting...
Associated Press

EXPLAINER: What hazards are posed by Hawaii’s Mauna Loa?

HONOLULU (AP) — Lava is shooting 100 feet to 200 feet (30 to 60 meters) into the air as Hawaii’s Mauna Loa, the world’s largest active volcano, erupts for the first time in nearly 40 years. For now, lava is not threatening any homes or communities and no evacuation orders have been issued. Lava could […]
1 day ago
Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange in New York, Monday, Nov. 28, 2022. (AP Ph...
Associated Press

Asian shares rise except Japan as markets eye China protests

TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares were mostly higher Tuesday as jitters over protests in China set off by growing public anger over COVID-19 restrictions subsided. U.S. futures edged higher. Oil prices rose more than $1 per barrel. Chinese shares rebounded after they were hit by sharp losses on Monday following protests over the weekend in […]
1 day ago
FILE - Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, speaks before former President Donald Trump at a rally at Dayton In...
Associated Press

GOP’s new committee leaders prepare blitz of investigations

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Republicans are promising aggressive oversight of the Biden administration once they assume the majority next year, with a particular focus on the business dealings of presidential son Hunter Biden, illegal immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border and the originations of COVID-19. Republicans won’t have enough votes to advance key legislative priorities if […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet edges out cable for everyday use

In a world where technology drives so much of our daily lives, a lack of high-speed internet can be a major issue.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Prep the plumbing in your home just in time for the holidays

With the holidays approaching, it's important to know when your home is in need of heating and plumbing updates before more guests start to come around.
...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet can improve everyday life

Quantum Fiber supplies unlimited data with speeds up to 940 mbps, enough to share 4K videos with coworkers 20 times faster than a cable.
EXPLAINER: Rituals play role in creating Italian government