From the government team of 20 people, including Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, nine ministers will belong to the 5 Star Movement, which is now making its debut in national public administration.
Five Star leader Luigi Di Maio will be deputy prime minister together with Matteo Salvini of the Lega, and will also be Minister of Labor. From this position, he will have to manage the difficult issue of the basic income, which is likely to be a subsidy awarded for two years, tied to the acceptance of job offers proposed, and connected with the complicated problem of the reform of state employment services. The task of implementing it has been made even more difficult by the reservations publicized—surprisingly fast—by the new Minister for the Economy, Giovanni Tria, who, meanwhile, has also said he is a great fan of the flat tax.
For the ministries assigned to the 5 Stars, the political leader of the M5S has chosen both party loyalists and some technocrats from those who had already agreed to be part of the 5 Star government team presented three days before the elections, and who ran on the M5S lists.
As regards the former, we find among the members of the new government the two-man “Praetorian Guard” who have been running interference for Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi for months now, and who have always been particularly close to Di Maio: Alfonso Bonafede, who will head the Ministry of Justice, and Riccardo Fraccaro, whose portfolio will include both the relationship with Parliament and “direct democracy” (a novelty that is a clear homage to the late Gianroberto Casaleggio).
Surprisingly, Barbara Lezzi also has a place on Giuseppe Conte’s list of ministers. Shortly before the election, she risked political implosion over the scandal of the restitution of funds received from the state for the purpose of helping Italian small businesses (celebrated by the M5S with their “Restitution Day”), for which she was shown to have profited by taking a hefty tax deduction the following year. She apologized, ate some humble pie and was rehabilitated by the blogs just as fast as she had been accused.
Yet, one should not forget that in 2013, when she had just been elected, she hired the daughter of her partner as her parliamentary assistant. Now, she will be entrusted with the “Ministry for the South,” a new portfolio conceived after the controversies arising from the lack of any mention of the problems of the South in the new alliance’s government contract. Someone so inclined could point out the irony of her past public musings that the GDP must have risen because of the sweltering heat and the use of air conditioners.
Forensic physician Giulia Grillo (no relation to Beppe), the current head of the M5S group in the Chamber of Deputies, will be the Minister of Health. She was part of the early followers of Beppe Grillo in Sicily, and specializes in bioethics and assessments of harm. She has said that mandatory vaccination “is the right measure in case of rising infections or population immunity collapse,” and has promised stricter checks on the accreditation of private health firms for public health coverage. If this latter proposal were to pass, the northern regions administered by the Lega would have to make some changes to their health policy.
Even the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport, one that is key for dealing with the symbolic and very real issue of high-speed rail, ended up being awarded to a party loyalist, Danilo Toninelli, who after the controversies in recent days took over the position previously offered to the Piedmontese Laura Castelli, as well as to Mauro Coltorti, the geologist and expert in environmental protection who had been touted as part of the M5S “fantasy government” before the elections.
However, some names were actually kept from that 5 Star “shadow government” brought out before the vote. The Ministry of Defense, another post assigned to the M5S, will be headed by Elisabetta Trenta. She has been a political adviser for the Foreign Ministry, as well as a military officer in the special reserves.
Trenta is married to a high-ranked military officer who is working at the institution that manages contracts for the armed forces (which has already led some to talk about a conflict of interest). He teaches at the Link Campus University, a private institution originating from Malta and in which the controversial CEPU group has significant interests. He has a brother who could become the next mayor of Velletri on June 10—of course, under the banner of the M5S. Trenta’s husband himself, however, comes from the center-right: he has held the position of municipal councilor in Velletri for the CCD.
Finally, the Environment Ministry will go to Sergio Costa, the general of the carabinieri who has been trying to fight the eco-mafia in the infamous Napoli-Caserta “Triangle of Death.”
The M5S team has finally been unveiled, after days of chaos that have led to tensions between the leadership and the large parliamentary groups. The night before last, during the joint meeting in which Di Maio both distanced himself from the Lega and announced the reopening of the negotiations to form a new government, there was much grumbling by members about participation in decisions and transparency. In response, Di Maio had to improvise: “There are so many of us, it is difficult to have meetings to make decisions, but still, I will try to find alternative methods.”
Now, the members of the two chambers of Parliament will be able to get to work and start appointing commissions. After all, they are the ones on whom the fate of the yellow-green government also depends: the newly elected parliamentarians who have not yet had the opportunity to make their voices heard.
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