(Bloomberg) --

Giorgia Meloni plans to uphold Italy’s pro-Ukraine and pro-NATO stance, but her government is set to shift internal policy to provide a greater shield for the country’s companies and industry. 

The leader of Brothers of Italy formally took over from Mario Draghi as head of government Sunday. The two have exchanged the little bell used to open cabinet meetings during the so-called “bell ceremony.” In the evening, Meloni also had a “fruitful” meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron, to discuss issues including Ukraine and the economy.

Meloni, 45, is Italy’s first female leader, yet her government will have men in 18 of 24 cabinet positions. She’ll also rename some of the ministries in a way that points to a domestic policy focus. 


That’s in line with Meloni’s Italy First political ideals based on sovereignty and a strong sense of nationalism, which also include potential steps to make Italy matter more within the European Union.

For example, Italy’s agriculture minister will take on the additional label of “food sovereignty,” while the former post of economic development minister will be rebranded as “companies and Made in Italy.” Giancarlo Giorgetti, who held the post in Draghi’s government, was named finance minister. 

Meloni’s Pick as Italy Finance Minister Isn’t Like Predecessors

If needed, the new government will use its ability to block foreign acquisition of Italian companies, known as “golden power,” Guido Crosetto, named as defense minister, said in an interview with Repubblica on Sunday.

Francesco Galietti, analyst at Policy Sonar, said the exercise of golden power “has become a very accurate proxy of Italy’s foreign policy stance” across successive governments. Under Draghi, “countless Chinese attempts to snap up Italian assets were thwarted,” he said. 

Meloni’s government, estimated to be the most right wing in Italy since WW2, is also set to change tack on civil rights, and its newly-named family minister has often shared anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ rights views in the past. 

Meloni is expected to provide more details on her government’s plans as soon as Tuesday, when she’ll address the Lower House ahead of a confidence vote expected to formally complete the formation of a new government. The vote will be followed by a similar one in the Senate. 

Matteo Salvini of the League and Antonio Tajani of Forza Italia, named respectively as transport minister and foreign affairs minister, will be deputy premiers.

Despite the domestic policy shift, Meloni has reassured all partners that Italy’s pro-Ukraine and pro-NATO positions aren’t in doubt as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is set to enter its ninth month. 

On Saturday, she replied to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s tweeted congratulations by reassuring him Italy will always be on the side of Ukraine, a message she’s also shared with the European Union and the US.

Meloni’s government has come together at an uncommonly fast pace for Italy: in less than a month, compared to an average of 46 days required by previous governments. That also reflects the many urgent matters it will need to address, which on top of high inflation and the energy crisis touched off by the war in Ukraine include the need to present a budget law by the end of the year.

Draghi was called on by President Sergio Mattarella in February 2021 to guide Italy out of the Covid pandemic and to implement a deep reform plan to cut the country’s notorious red tape. His government’s mandate came to a halt after 18 months due to opposition within his party to fiscal reforms and his staunch military support of Ukraine.

(Updates with Macron meeting in second paragraph)

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