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    Far-right leader Giorgia Meloni sworn in as Italian premier

    ROME (AP) – Giorgia Meloni, whose political party with neo-fascist roots emerged victorious in recent elections, was sworn in yesterday as Italy’s first far-right premier since the end of World War II. She is also the first woman to be premier.

    Meloni, 45, recited the oath of office before President Sergio Mattarella, who formally asked her to form a government a day earlier.

    Her Brothers of Italy party, which she co-founded in 2012, will rule in coalition with the right-wing League of Matteo Salvini and the conservative Forza Italia party headed by former Premier Silvio Berlusconi. Those two parties’ popularity has sagged with voters in recent years.

    Meloni recited the ritual oath of office, pledging to be faithful to Italy’s post-war republic and to act “in the exclusive interests of the nation”.

    The pledge was signed by her and counter-signed by Mattarella, who, in his role as head of state, serves as guarantor of the Constitution, drafted in the years immediately after the end of war. Meloni’s 24 ministers followed, similarly swearing in. Five of the ministers are technocrats, not representing any party. Six of them are women. In her campaign for the September 25 election, Meloni insisted that national interests prevail over European Union (EU) policies should there be conflict.

    European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen sounded an upbeat note in her congratulations tweet to Meloni right after she was sworn in and noted that the Italian was the first woman to hold the premiership. “I count on and look forward to constructive cooperation with the new government on the challenges we face together,” the EU Chief said.

    Attending the swearing-in ceremony in a sumptuous room of the Quirinal Palace was Meloni’s companion, who is a journalist in Berlusconi’s media empire, and their six-year-old daughter, Ginevra.

    While Meloni didn’t campaign openly to be Italy’s first woman premier, she has said there would be no doubt that her victory would be clearly breaking through the “glass ceiling” that discourages women’s progress.

    Italian President Sergio Mattarella is flanked by newly appointed Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni during the swearing in ceremony at Quirinal presidential palace in Rome as Italy’s first far-right-led government since the end of World War II takes office. PHOTO: AP
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