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Prime minister-designated Paolo Gentiloni to form new government

by Nicoletta Cottone and Andrea Gagliardi

Italian President Sergio Mattarella on Sunday gave former Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni the task of forming a new government after Matteo Renzi resigned as prime minister on December 7.

“I am aware of the urgency of giving Italy a government with full powers to reassure citizens and tackle international, economic and social priorities with maximum commitment, starting from the reconstruction of the areas hit by the earthquake,” Gentiloni said in his first remarks since being given the new job of forming a government.

The work carried out by Mattarella during consultations with all political parties will be the basis on which Gentiloni will move “to accompany, and if possible facilitate, the work of the parliamentary forces to define the new electoral rules with the necessary haste,” he said.

Gentiloni accepted the appointment with reserve

Gentiloni accepted the appointment with reserve, as is established practice. “From the consultations carried out by the President of the Republic, the unwillingness of the major opposition forces to share the responsibility of a new government emerged,” and therefore “we will move in the framework of the outgoing government and majority,” the former foreign minister said, assuring that he would refer back to Mattarella as soon as possible.

The new executive should be supported by a majority made up of parties including the Democratic Party (PD) the New Centre Right (NCD) and Civic Choice. The “Verdiniani” supporters of Denis Verdini, and senators from the centre-right GAL grouping (14 in total) have also guaranteed their support: it is still to be understood whether they will be part of the government team or if they will just provide external backing.

No support has been offered however from former premier Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia. It has not said that it is opposed to a new government, even if Berlusconi has specified that his party will not take part in any executive. Meanwhile strong opposition has been shown by the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S), the federalist Northern League and the right-wing Brothers of Italy party, who are calling for an immediate return to the polls after the Constitutional Court’s verdict on Italicum the electoral law, which is not expected before January 24.

The prime minister’s consultations

After his nomination on Sunday, Gentiloni gave the go-ahead for consultations in the Chamber of Deputies. Gentiloni met the various political forces aiming to soon reveal the new government team. Maybe even today he will be able to head back to the President to accept the appointment, after having drawn up the list of ministers. He was working on this late into the evening yesterday.

If Gentiloni brings his list to the president today, then on Tuesday the ministers could be sworn in already and there will also be time for the confidence votes in the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate between tomorrow, Tuesday 13, and Wednesday 14 of December. That will be in time for the European Council meeting planned in Brussels on December 15.

The new Cabinet

The most important ministers expect to be confirmed in the position they are now holding : first of all Economy Minister Pier Carlo Padoan and Interior Minister Angelino Alfano. Also most of the ministers belonging to the Democratic Party should remain where they are: undersecretary Luca Lotti, the most devoted and loyal associate of former Prime Minister Renzi, Culture Minister Dario Franceschini, Justice Minister Andrea Orlando, Infrastructure and Transport Minister Graziano Delrio, Defence Minister Roberta Pinotti and Agriculture Minister Maurizio Martina.

Reform Minister Maria Elena Boschi, who was responsible for the constitutional reform rejected by voters, should remain in the cabinet but with the role of Minister for the relations with Parliament.

A new foreign minister must, of course, be nominated: rumors say there might be two candidates, former Turin Major Piero Fassino or the secretary general of the ministry, Elisabetta Belloni. Also Senate’s Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Pier Ferdinando Casini stands in the background. Welfare Minister Giuliano Poletti and Education Minister Stefania Giannini will probably not be confirmed.