Giorgia Meloni appointed as Italy's first female prime minister

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By Andrea Carlo
Brothers of Italy's leader Giorgia Meloni arrives at the Quirinale Presidential Palace
Brothers of Italy's leader Giorgia Meloni arrives at the Quirinale Presidential Palace   -  Copyright  Credit: AP

Giorgia Meloni has been appointed Italy's first female prime minister.

Following a meeting with the country's President, Sergio Mattarella, she announced the composition of her cabinet.

Meloni's Brothers of Italy party -- a national conservative movement with neo-fascist roots -- emerged as Italy's biggest party in a snap general election held on 25 September.

It is the main force in a right-wing coalition that includes Matteo Salvini's Northern League movement and Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia.

Salvini himself has been appointed deputy PM - making it the second time he has held this position - as well as transport minister.

Among the other prominent names in Meloni's cabinet is former European Parliament President Antonio Tajani, who will be the new foreign secretary and deputy PM.

Meloni, who will be officially sworn in at 10 am on Saturday, has expressed her steadfast commitment to leading a unified new government.

"We are ready to provide Italy with a government that can competently and consciously tackle our present-day challenges and emergencies," she tweeted on Thursday.

But despite having secured a landslide, the right-wing bloc has already been afflicted by significant challenges.

Tensions between the leaders, notably Meloni and Berlusconi, have come to the forefront, especially after the latter was seen describing the soon-to-be PM as "patronising, overbearing, arrogant [and] offensive" in his notes. Meloni's response was no less pithy: "I won't be blackmailed".

The situation got worse after Berlusconi, a long-time friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was recorded as saying he had "rekindled" his relationship with the maligned leader, with whom he admitted to exchanging gifts and "very sweet letters".

While Berlusconi has denied such allegations, the furore that erupted following the leaked audio has significantly upset the coalition's government plans. Meloni herself has maintained a firmly pro-NATO stance and has sharply condemned Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

In response to the budding scandal, centre-left leader Enrico Letta stated that he would not "tolerate ambiguity on Russia".