Handing over between the premier and the outgoing prime minister, a long conversation between the two. Meloni to ministers: “Acting with team spirit”
Outgoing Prime Minister Mario Draghi handed over to the new Prime Minister, Giorgia Melonithe bell. This is how the first Italian government led by a woman, the leader of Fdi, officially takes office. Visibly moved, her very lucid eyes, the new prime minister exchanges glances of understanding and smiles with Draghi, then the handshakes between the respective undersecretaries. Draghi, mistakenly, also shakes hands with the man in the escort of the new prime minister. When the ceremony ends and the outgoing Prime Minister leaves the Galleons room, Meloni, called in a loud voice by photographers, raises his index fingers for a souvenir photo.
Before the traditional exchange that marks the inauguration ceremony of the new executive, between the two there was an interview of about an hour and twenty. A very long interview than usual, aimed at addressing the transition phase and the main dossiers on the table that the outgoing executive leaves to the new government.
THE FIRST CDM – The first Council of Ministers of the Meloni government ended after half an hour. On the table, the appointment of the two deputy premieres and the undersecretary to the presidency, Alfredo Mantovano, who was sworn in by the prime minister. “President Meloni opened the Council of Ministers with a heartfelt thanks to the President of the Republic, Sergio Mattarella”, reads the note from Palazzo Chigi, which continues: “The Council of Ministers agreed, then proceeded to assign the functions to the vice presidents of the Council, Antonio Tajani and Matteo Salvini “.
The premier would have received a strong appeal to the sense of responsibility and loyalty, to what is learned from some present at the meeting. ‘Remember that it is an honor to represent all the Italians here’, Meloni would have said in his speech, underlining the need to always act with team spirit.
As usual, she is the first to speak to invite her ministers to loyalty and teamwork, because, she explained, we are there for all to see. Everyone is looking at us, there is a lot of enthusiasm and there is great expectation on us, the leader of via della Scrofa would have emphasized, as reported by some present at the meeting.
At the Cdm lightning after Meloni, only the vice premieres Antonio Tajani and Matteo Salvini would have intervened, also to underline the need to march together.
“Today was the emotional phase, the premier invited us to work seriously”. So the minister Gilberto Pichetto Fratin, after the cdm. “We have not done anything specific” on the various issues. “There was the appointment as Undersecretary of Mantovano”, he explains.
THE ARRIVAL OF MELONS – After reviewing the guard of honor and greeting the press, she went up the staircase of honor to join the outgoing Prime Minister. “Welcome, how are you?” Asked Draghi. “Well, this below is a bit emotionally impacting”, the answer referring to the homage of the picket. The two presidents then stopped for a ritual photo, exchanging a handshake in favor of cameramen and photographers before enter the hall where for an interview before the inauguration ceremony, the bell ceremony that officially marks the changing of the guard.
THE RITE OF THE BELL – The ‘bell ceremony’ that formalizes the handover from one prime minister to another was born 26 years ago. Exactly in May of ’96, when Romando Prodi, leader of the Olive tree, took over from the coach Lamberto Dini. Since then he has marked the changing of the guard at Palazzo Chigi. Also this morning the rite will be repeated, as in the best of traditions, in the Galleons room, between Dragons and Melons ensuring the first woman premier the ‘full functions’.
It will be up to a clerk to deliver on a special tray to the leader of via della Scrofa the golden bell with which he will ‘direct’ the meetings of the CDM in the Mappamondo room, in favor of cameras, among the flashes of the photographers present. If last time the passing of the baton between Giuseppe Conte and Mario Draghi in time of Covid was marked by the amuchina, just a year earlier, a real case was created, because it took place with a more unprecedented formula than usual, given that Prime Minister Conte for his encore decided not to give up the ringing, happening to himself.
In memory of the parliamentary reporters, since ’96, in addition to the Conte bis, there are only two precedents of a head of the government who takes over from himself: Massimo D’Alema, who passed the baton from the first to his second government, in ’99 , and Silvio Berlusconi, in the passage from bis to ter, in 2005. In both cases, however, it seems that the bell has never been ‘rung’. At least in front of the media.
Another curiosity linked to the establishment of the new government was the freezing of the outgoing Enrico Letta against Matteo Renzi in 2014. Then Letta did not wait, as is customary, for the new prime minister at the foot of the grand staircase but in his study. And with his face almost turned, so as not to meet the former scrapper’s gaze, he put the bell in his hand with which the Council of Ministers begins. Grim-faced, after a fleeting final handshake with Renzi, Letta ignored Graziano Delrio, leaving his undersecretary Filippo Patroni Griffi to take his leave with a smile from the Sala dei Galeoni.
The only precedent in terms of ‘coldness’ is dated 1987, when Bettino Craxi did not hand over to Amintore Fanfani. But in general, a smile, even if between the teeth, and the slightly forced handshake in front of the photographers, with the bell in the foreground, was part of the practice. Even an embittered Berlusconi had respected it, when he had to yield at the entrance of Mario Monti, and Prodi on the day of D’Alema’s arrival as Prime Minister.
PRESS ROOM IN RESTYLING – Meanwhile, in the press room, the works – which have been underway since summer 2021 – are not yet completed. For now, therefore, the new Prime Minister for press conferences will have to continue to use the Multifunctional Hall, a few steps from Palazzo Chigi, the ‘theater’ of all the conferences of the outgoing Prime Minister.
Work to change the face of the press room has been underway for months now, but there have been delays, caused on the one hand by the difficulties in finding raw materials – thanks to the war in Ukraine and the ongoing energy crisis – on the other attributable to the change in the running of the companies owning the works. The new look of the press room will still take some time: the hope is to close everything by the end of the year. A handful of months at least to complete the electronic parts -explain the experts-, starting with audio, microphones and video-wall, a sort of full-wall screen, which can be used according to the needs of the moment.
The restyling signed by Silvio Berlusconi is therefore definitively going to the attic with a ‘shot of lime’, featuring reproductions of Corinthian columns and capitals, a blue backdrop with overlapping chairs. The works, decided during the second Conte government and then taken over by the Draghi executive, were necessary for the adaptation to current fire prevention regulations and above all to those regarding the protection of health and safety in the workplace imposed by pandemic emergency.
At present, the bathrooms and the boxes assigned to the press agencies, located at the end of the room, have been completed. But the conference room, which will be equipped with adequate lighting that will allow photographers and cameramen to use their equipment without a flash, is still on the high seas.
The latest change of look of the press room of the Prime Minister, obtained from the stables of the Chigi princes, seems to go back to the De Mita government. We will have to wait for Berlusconi to arrive for a first deep restructuring. When he took office, 27 years ago, the Knight remained too little time (only seven months due to the reversal of Umberto Bossi) to leave a mark. He ‘redone’ himself in 2002, when he decided to ‘rejuvenate’ the space that housed the meetings with journalists he considered too serious, commissioning a complete restyling to his trusted architect, Mario Catalano, creator of the scenography of the NATO summit of Pratica di Sea.
And so mirrors were brought, white stuccoes applied, columns with Corinthian capitals reproduced, ad hoc lighting introduced for the best video shooting success. But above all, the background that had hitherto served as a symbolic framework for the government’s declarations was changed. Behind the prime minister, the blue leader had a painting by Andrea Pozzo placed, representing Europe, given that precisely in that five-year period the six months of the Italian presidency of the EU would have fallen.