Meloni wins final confidence vote, pledges support for Ukraine

Italy’s new PM secured a majority of 115 votes in favour of her coalition government in a Senate vote.

Italy’s new far-right-led government of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has easily won the second of two required confidence votes in Parliament by a comfortable margin.

Wednesday night’s vote in the Senate was 115 in favour of her coalition government and 79 against, while there were five abstentions. The coalition needed at least 104 votes for an absolute majority.

Ahead of the vote, Meloni had defended her policy aims, stating that the only way to facilitate a peace deal between Russia and Ukraine is by helping Kyiv defend itself militarily.

“Peace can be achieved by supporting Ukraine … it is the only chance we have for the two sides to negotiate,” she said.

Meloni said that while the arms Italy supplies to Ukraine are not decisive for the outcome of the war, they are vital for Italy to maintain its international credibility.

“Do you think that Italy’s position will determine the outcome of the war?” Meloni asked, noting that the United Kingdom is supplying more arms than all of the European Union combined.

“What would change is not the outcome of the war in Ukraine, what would change is the approach others have toward us, what would change is our credibility, on the level of defence, of national interests and commerce.”

Meloni has repeatedly pledged support to Kyiv, while her coalition allies Silvio Berlusconi and Matteo Salvini have been much more ambivalent on the issue due to their historic ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Berlusconi, who sparked a political storm last week by reiterating his sympathy for Putin and accusing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of triggering the war, came into line with Meloni during the Senate confidence debate.

He said he had always worked to unite Moscow with the West, but Russia’s invasion of Ukraine meant this was now impossible.

“In this situation we naturally stand with the West,” he said. “We must work for peace, and we will do it in full accord with our Western allies in respect of the will of the Ukrainian people”.

In other remarks during her Senate speech, Meloni said she would lift limits on cash transactions that previous governments have enacted as a measure to fight tax evasion, and she ruled out introducing a minimum wage, saying it was not the right way to increase Italy’s chronically stagnant salaries.

She also said the government would rewrite legislation imposing a windfall tax on energy companies that have benefitted from surging oil and gas prices.

The previous government led by Mario Draghi expected to fund part of its measures to soften the impact of the energy crisis on firms and families through a 25 percent windfall tax on energy groups, but revenues have proved much lower than expected.

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