Italy parliament meets in step towards new government
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Italy's parliament meets for the first time Thursday since the far-right won elections last month, a key step in the process of forming a government.
Giorgia Meloni's Brothers of Italy party, which has neo-fascist roots, secured a historic 26 percent of the vote in September 25 polls.
But she can only form a government with her fractious allies, Matteo Salvini, head of the far-right League, and Silvio Berlusconi, founder of right-wing Forza Italia.
The three leaders have been tussling over the formation of a cabinet able to manage the myriad of challenges facing the eurozone's third-largest economy, notably soaring inflation and an energy crisis linked to the war in Ukraine.
"We cannot waste any time, the situation in Italy is not easy," Meloni said Wednesday ahead of talks with Salvini and Berlusconi, whose parties secured nine and eight percent of the vote respectively.
Members of the Senate and lower house will Thursday begin voting for new speakers, a process likely involving several rounds, potentially lasting into Friday.
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The speakers will then take part in discussions with President Sergio Mattarella on who should lead the next government.
The secret ballots were a "first test" in an atmosphere of "high tension" between the allied leaders, the Corriere della Sera newspaper said Thursday.
Whether or not Meloni, Salvini and Berlusconi's parties voted in concert "will be indicative of their compactness", it said.
The Stampa daily said the right was in "chaos", while the Repubblica warned the three leaders were "unprepared" for government.
Meloni will almost certainly be nominated prime minister -- the first woman to take the job in Italy -- but must agree with her allies on ministerial appointments and a programme for government before Mattarella confirms the position.
Meloni has said little in public since her election win, although she has taken to social media to dismiss media speculation about her ministerial picks.
Brothers of Italy has no experience of government -- it won just four percent of the vote in 2018 general elections -- but she has sought to reassure investors she can handle the pressure.
No firm name has yet to emerge for finance minister, the most important government post after prime minister as debt-laden Italy grapples with sky-high prices weighing heavily on households and businesses.
Italy has also been racing to reduce its dependence on gas from Russia, which the West has accused of deliberately shutting off supplies as part of the stand-off over the war in Ukraine.
The International Monetary Fund this week predicted the pressures would push Italy into recession next year, alongside Germany.
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