Italy’s first far-right-led government since the fall of fascism in World War II can get down to business after new Premier Giorgia Meloni easily won the second of two required confidence votes in Parliament on Wednesday.
Ahead of the Senate vote, Meloni responded to criticism that her governing policy goals, presented in a lengthy speech to the lower house on Tuesday, omitted any reference to peace from her support for Ukraine and that her economic policies would encourage tax evasion and endanger substantial EU pandemic recovery funds.
On the economic front, Meloni said she would go ahead with plans to lift limits on cash transactions that previous governments have enacted as a measure to fight tax evasion, but which Meloni said were ineffective. And she said reallocating some of the EU pandemic recovery funds was necessary because projects were decided before the war in Ukraine drove up energy and raw materials costs.
Meloni easily won both confidence votes, starting with the lower house on Tuesday. In the Senate Wednesday, 115 voted in favor of her coalition government and 79 against, while there were five abstentions. The votes are required by the Italian constitution for new governments.
“Immediately to work to respond to urgencies facing Italy,″ Meloni said in a tweet after the vote.
Meloni was sworn in Saturday as Italy’s first female premier after her far-right Brothers of Italy party won the most votes in a parliamentary election last month with 26% of the vote. She governs along with anti-migrant League leader Matteo Salvini and conservative former Premier Silvio Berlusconi.
Meloni took umbrage with criticism that her policy references to Italy’s support for Ukraine did not include the word peace.
“If someone thinks that this means that I enjoy war, no. But we need to understand how one arrives at peace. ... You don’t make peace waving a rainbow flag at a demonstration. It is difficult to achieve peace that way,’’ Meloni told lawmakers in the Senate.
She repeated her resolve to support Ukraine in its defense against Russian aggression, likening it to her support of the principal of legitimate defense against home intruders. And she said that supporting Ukraine was also critical to Italy’s legitimacy on the international stage.
“Do you think that Italy’s position will determine the outcome of the war?” Meloni asked, noting that Britain is supplying more arms than all the EU combined. “What would change is not the outcome of the war in Ukraine, what would change is the approach others have toward us, what would change is our credibility, on the level of defense, of national interests and commerce.”
Meloni closed with an appeal to the opposition not to hinder her government on grounds of ideology, but to vote based on the content of the policies.
“Don’t hold back on criticism, I don’t expect that, it would be wrong. I believe in the merit of the opposition, but what I ask is that we speak on the merits, not create ideological debates,” Meloni said.