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Italy’s new Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte, stands next to President Sergio Mattarella following the swearing in of the new government ministers. At far right is Interior Minister Matteo Salvini; second from right is Minister of Economic Development, Luigi Di Maio, both of whom are Deputy Prime Ministers.
New Members Welcomed for an Improved Italian Government
Italy has finally sworn in members for its new government. Here are the new members and their posts.
Prime Minister: Giuseppe Conte, 53, was plucked from relative obscurity by the Five Star Movement (M5S), first during the election campaign as the potential figurehead of its drive to reform Italy’s bureaucracy, then months later as its nominee for Prime Minister, once both parties agreed not to install their own leaders as PM. The law professor has a long CV in academia and legal affairs, but no experience in public office. The leaders of the M5S and League will serve as his joint deputies.
Minister of Economic Development, Labor and Social Policy, Deputy Prime Minister: Luigi Di Maio – Just 31 years old, M5S leader Di Maio at one point looked to be Italy’s youngest ever Prime Minister, after his party won the largest share of the vote in March’s election. However, his coalition partner, the League, would not approve of his elevation to PM. Instead, Di Maio finds himself with the economic development portfolio. This position is crucial to the Five Star Movement’s proposals to reverse austerity measures and boost benefits.
Interior Minister, Deputy Prime Minister: Matteo Salvini – The League’s party leader, Salvini renounced his ambition (at least for now) to be Italy’s Prime Minister and has settled upon the cabinet post of Interior Ministry. The role puts him in charge of Italy’s immigration policies, which he has long denounced as too liberal. Salvini, 45, has promised to crack down on illegal immigration to Italy and drastically speed up the process of deporting those who have already arrived.
Finance Minister: Giovanni Tria – The 69-year-old Tria is the coalition’s compromise solution after President Sergio Mattarella vetoed their first choice to fill the crucial position, Paolo Savona, now moved to European Affairs. Tria believes that Italy is better off remaining in the European Union, though has called for reforms to the Euro. The political economist favors the League’s heavily simplified tax rate, but has expressed concern about the M5S’s plans to introduce a form of universal basic income.
Foreign Minister: Enzo Moavero Milanese, 63, twice served as Italy’s Minister of European Affairs and before that spent two decades in the European Commission. A professor of law, he is considered a deft and courteous negotiator.
Justice Minister: Alfonso Bonafede – Nicknamed the “Mr. Wolf,” the 41-year-old is from the Five Star Movement and is a close personal ally of Di Maio. Born in Sicily, but representing Tuscany in parliament, he has a background in jurisprudence.
European Affairs Minister: Paolo Savona, 81, picks up the Europe portfolio after being switched from finance. The economist and one-time trade minister is a vigorous critic of the European Union and its single currency. He opposes the elites who run the EU, rather than a united Europe itself.
Defense Minister: Elisabetta Trenta – The 50-year-old is Italy’s second ever female Defense Minister, a political scientist specialized in international cooperation, intelligence and security. She was selected for the post by the M5S even before the election. She wants to modernize Italy’s armed forces and better equip them to deal with changing threats.
Health Minister: Giulia Grillo – With a degree in medicine, Grillo, 43, has said that she is unequivocally in favor of vaccines, but has added that Italy’s current law making shots compulsory for schoolchildren risks doing more harm than good and has called for a different approach.
The other members of the Cabinet appointed include: Sergio Costa – Environment Minister; Marco Bussetti – Education Minister; Gian Marco Centinaio – Agriculture Minister; Erika Stefani – Regional Affairs Minister; Barbara Lezzi – Minister for the South; Danilo Toninelli – Infrastructure and Transport Minister; Lorenzo Fontana – Families and Disabilities Minister; Giulia Bongiorno – Public Administration Minister; Alberto Bonisoli – Culture and Tourism Minister and Riccardo Fraccaro – Minister for Parliamentary Relations and Direct Democracy.