UPDATED: La Russa elected Italian Senate Speaker

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ROME, Oct 13 (Reuters) – A senior member of Giorgia Meloni’s nationalist Brothers of Italy party was elected speaker of the upper house Senate on Thursday, despite a revolt within the right-wing coalition that won last month’s general election.

Ignazio La Russa clinched the necessary majority in the Senate vote, even though many members of Silvio Berlusconi’s conservative Forza Italia party boycotted the ballot to protest over the cabinet seats they have been offered in the forthcoming government.

In theory, La Russa should not have been able to win without the support of Forza Italia senators, but in the end he got 116 votes, lifting him well above the required 104-vote majority.

It was not immediately clear which opposition politicians had backed him in the secret ballot.

The right-wing alliance, which includes Brothers of Italy, Forza Italia and the League, easily won the Sept. 25 election and have promised to bring political stability to the country after years of short-lived governments.

However efforts to form a cabinet have proved more difficult than predicted and political sources say Berlusconi is furious with Meloni, who is widely expected to be named prime minister, for refusing some of his demands for the new ministerial team.

Riccardo Molinari, a senior member of Matteo Salvini’s League, looks set to be elected the new Speaker of Italy’s Lower House after Meloni said FdI was set to back him for the post

Italy’s new parliament opened on Thursday, with a Holocaust survivor due to preside over the first session of the upper house Senate as the most right-wing coalition since World War Two takes control of both chambers.

Liliana Segre was the only member of her family to emerge alive from the Nazi Auschwitz concentration camp at the end of the war. Honoured as a senator for life, the 92 year-old is the oldest active member of the house, meaning she will start proceedings.

The Senate’s first duty will be to elect a president.

The opening of parliament paves the way for the head of state to hold talks with party leaders about the formation of the new government, which is likely to take office before the end of October.

Brothers of Italy leader Giorgia Meloni looks sure to become Italy’s first female prime minister after her party won more votes than her main allies – the anti-immigrant League, headed by Matteo Salvini, and Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia group.

She will face a daunting task, with the euro zone’s third largest economy heading into recession, energy prices soaring and the war in Ukraine showing no sign of easing.

Talks on pulling together the coalition cabinet have also proved unexpectedly complicated, with both Salvini and Berlusconi demanding positions for their parties that Meloni has been unwilling to concede, political sources have said.

Filling the role of economy minister has proved especially hard. Meloni has looked to tap a respected technocrat for the sensitive role, seeking to reassure investors, but none has so far shown willing to join her administration.

The upper and lower houses will be less crowded than before.

In an effort to reduce costs, the previous parliament voted to cut the number of lawmakers, meaning there will be just 400 deputies in the lower chamber against a previous 630 and only 200 elected senators compared with 315 before.

Among the reduced ranks of senators, will be former prime minister Berlusconi, who is making his return to the upper house at the age of 86, nine years after he was expelled from elected office following a conviction for tax fraud.

Photo – (FILE) – Holocaust survivor and Italian Senator for Life, Liliana Segre. EPA-EFE/DANIEL DAL ZENNARO

Brothers of Italy’s (Fratelli d’Italia) Ignazio La Russa . EPA-EFE/ETTORE FERRARI

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