Giorgia Meloni takes over as Italy’s first woman prime minister
Published: Oct 23, 2022 09:47 PM
Giorgia Meloni officially took over on Sunday as Italy's first woman prime minister at the helm of the country's most right-wing government since World War II.

Four weeks after her Brothers of ­Italy party won general elections, Meloni joined outgoing premier Mario Draghi for a handover ceremony at Chigi Palace, the prime minister's seat in Rome.

After almost 90 minutes of private talks, the pair smiled broadly as Draghi, a former European Central Bank chief, symbolically handed over to Meloni a small bell used in cabinet debates.

She later held her first meeting of ministers comprising members of her party and its allies, former premier Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia party and Matteo Salvini's far-right League.

The Euroskeptic, anti-immigration coalition takes over the eurozone's third largest economy at a time of soaring inflation, an energy crisis and the war in Ukraine.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Saturday she had a "good first call" with Meloni, adding, "I count on and look forward to constructive cooperation with the new government on the challenges we face together."

Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany later said he looked forward to "working closely together with Italy in EU, NATO and G7" - a sentiment Meloni reflected in responses to congratulatory messages on Twitter.

On Saturday, Meloni and her 24 ministers were sworn in before President Sergio Mattarella at the Quirinal Palace in Rome.

Meloni's ministerial experience is limited to three years as youth minister under Berlusconi's 2008-11 government, while her party has never held power. Brothers of Italy won just 4 percent of the vote in 2018 elections, but secured a historic 26 percent of the vote in the September 25 poll.