Eva Deschamps / October 25, 2022
Italy’s new Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni delivers her policy speech to parliament on Tuesday morning, one month to the day after her post-fascist Fratelli d’Italia party’s historic legislative victory.
Mrs. Meloni “is putting the finishing touches to the speech she will give to the Chamber of Deputies (…) Her intention is to define a programmatic framework (…) with the aim of implementing the commitments made to Italians during the election campaign,” government sources said Monday evening.
Probably focused on the energy crisis and inflation affecting households and businesses, the speech of Ms. Meloni, the first female head of government in Italian history who took office on Sunday, will be followed by a vote of confidence on Tuesday evening in the Chamber of Deputies and Wednesday in the Senate.
Mario Draghi’s successor is certain to win both votes, since her coalition with Matteo Salvini’s anti-migrant League and Forza Italia, Silvio Berlusconi’s conservative party, has an absolute majority in both chambers.
Paradoxically, while her party had been in frontal opposition to Mario Draghi’s government, her program should be in line with that of the former head of the European Central Bank (ECB), at least in the economic field.
Indeed, she has entrusted the crucial portfolio of Economy to a former minister of Mr. Draghi, Giancarlo Giorgetti, representing the moderate wing of the League.
It has also taken on as an advisor in the Chigi Palace, the seat of government, the former Minister for Ecological Transition of Mr. Draghi, Roberto Cingolani, who followed energy issues both in Rome and in Brussels.
“On economic policy, there is general popular support in Italy for what Draghi was doing,” Gilles Moëc, chief economist of the Axa group, observed for AFP.
These appointments are intended to reassure the markets as well as Brussels and the European partners of the third largest economy in the euro zone, whose growth depends on nearly 200 billion euros in grants and loans from the European Union as part of its post-pandemic recovery fund.
These funds depend on a series of reforms, from justice to the digitization of public administration, to be implemented by 2026. Meloni’s coalition has promised to revise the plan, but has not yet said how, and since some of the funds have already been disbursed, Brussels is unlikely to allow major changes.
Any strategy of tension with the european Commission would be a real temptation to the devil in a very unpromising financial environment,” said Gilles Moëc.
This manna is indeed indispensable for a country whose debt reaches 150% of GDP, the highest ratio in the euro zone after Greece, and which is expected to enter a recession in 2023, according to the forecasts of the International Monetary Fund.
The many challenges facing his government are therefore essentially economic, starting with inflation and public debt.
Inflation rose by 8.9% year-on-year in September, fuelled by rising food (+11.4%) and energy (+44.5%) prices, penalizing households and businesses.
Italy has been particularly affected by the energy crisis due to its dependence on Russian gas imports.
Among other topics likely to be addressed in his speech is the abolition of the “citizenship income”, a minimum income for the poorest that had been introduced in 2019 at the instigation of the 5 Star Movement (ex-anti-system).
On the other hand, Giorgia Meloni, an ultra-conservative whose motto is “God, country, family”, promised not to touch the law allowing abortion.