Giorgia Meloni set to be appointed Italy’s first female prime minister despite Berlusconi tensions

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Giorgia Meloni headed to Rome’s Quirinal Palace on Friday where she is expected to be appointed as Italy’s new prime minister.

Matteo Salvini and ex-PM Silvio Berlusconi will join her at the meeting with Italy’s president, Sergio Mattarella, to deliberate cabinet positions in the government.

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

It is the biggest force in a right-wing coalition that includes Salvini’s Northern League movement and Berlusconi’s Forza Italia.

In a tweet on Thursday, Meloni 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 said.

Her enthusiasm was shared by other members of her coalition, with Salvini declaring that the “team is ready,” and Berlusconi stating that his party, Forza Italia, would give a “decisive contribution” to the creation of the new government.

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 all the 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, especially given Meloni’s own firmly pro-NATO stance and condemnation of 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”.