It was a solemn ambience, but with an atmosphere reminiscent of a family affair, to quote Enzo Forcella, who was talking about something very different, but still about politics in the end.
In the ballroom of the Quirinal Palace, so many of the protagonists of the swearing-in and their families, some very well-connected amongst each other, have known each other “since childhood” and “love each other even when they hate each other.” When it came time to finalize the list of ministers, Giorgia Meloni had to fill it with friends and comrades (although that’s not the right word here), and even one of her relatives.
There is no precedent for naming a family member of the Prime Minister in the same cabinet, except for one case, long ago and an unpleasant affair to recall.
The wife of Francesco Lollobrigida, the newly appointed Minister of Agriculture with the newly added portfolio of “Food Sovereignty,” is Arianna Meloni, Giorgia Meloni’s sister, who came to accompany her to the rooms where President Mattarella was waiting. She then went on to sit in the front row of the hall, next to her niece Ginevra and Giorgia’s partner, Andrea Giambruno. He works at Mediaset, while Arianna is one of the staff at Fratelli d’Italia; they’re both well-known and were recognized by the ministers, who exchanged greetings and bows with them from afar.
Salvini, in his role as a dad, was blowing kisses to his children, also in the front row, with girlfriend Francesca Verdini holding the youngest. Even the Prime Minister, once she finished her swearing-in, went behind the table to stand next to President Mattarella and from there she had little Ginevra in her line of sight, making signs to her as soon as she could. We’ve never seen so many relatives at a government swearing-in.
To be nitpicky, Prime Minister Meloni said the formula incorrectly when she took the oath: she had tried to memorize it, but added an extra “to exercise my mandate” to the correct version, “to exercise my functions in the exclusive interest of the nation.”
Antonio Tajani, who was the first to take the oath, was also overcome with emotion and got confused, forgetting to say “loyally” when he swore to observe the Constitution, then going back and correcting himself. Meloni seemed more cordial towards him than Salvini, who arrived second and was greeted by a less than warm “good morning” from the new Prime Minister. But then came a smile as well. She had many smiles for new Ministers Nello Musumeci and Raffaele Fitto, in particular.
Elisabetta Casellati, however – dressed completely in white, like “First Sister” Arianna and Minister Alessandra Locatelli, all three unluckily seated close together – had a dark expression on. When Secretary General Ugo Zampetti called for Lollobrigida to be sworn in, Meloni let out a hint of a laugh (understandable) and threw one of the “killer” looks she often gets.
The stiffest of the new appointees was certainly Carlo Nordio, the new Justice Minister, wearing a vest and pocket watch, who almost bowed before Mattarella and Meloni. The most nervous was Gennaro Sangiuliano, who started running from his seat to the signing-in desk when called and shouted out his oath instead of reciting it.
After the ceremony, however, Nordio loosened up more than the others, the only one among the very few who were willing (and brave enough) to talk to the journalists who actually said something of substance beyond the expected commonplaces. The new Justice Minister had a good answer, perhaps prepared in advance, to those who asked him the customary question of where his work would begin: “With the implementation of the Code of Criminal Procedure, authored by Giuliano Vassalli, a figure of the Resistance who received the Silver Medal of Military Valor, and the revision of the Penal Code signed by Mussolini.”
For the former, the implementation of the Code of Criminal Procedure concerning indictments, the way forward is the separation between the careers of prosecutors and those of judges. As for the Penal Code, “we must get rid of the prejudice that security or good administration is protected by criminal laws. This is not true.” These are great intentions, combined with the even better one of a broader “decriminalization.” We’ll see what comes out of them.
Giorgia Meloni, on the other hand, left very quickly, the first out the door from the Quirinal. She thus managed to keep her promise to attend the funeral of Francesco Valdiserri, an 18-year-old young man who died after being hit by a car on a sidewalk in Rome, whose parents are two Corriere della Sera journalists, his mother a political reporter.
On Tuesday, at the Palazzo Chigi, Meloni was set to receive the traditional bell from Draghi in the official handover, and then to preside over the first Council of Ministers immediately afterwards, in which, as announced, Salvini and Tajani would be promoted to Deputy Prime Ministers. Alfredo Mantovano – who was also a guest at the Quirinale on Monday morning – was to be appointed Undersecretary to the Prime Minister. The decree to change the names of ministries was also expected to be passed: the time has come to add such expressions as “made in Italy” and “natality” to their titles.
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