Led by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, the new government represents a coalition between the populist Five Star Movement (M5S) and its former foe, the centre-left Democratic Party (PD).
Conte’s speech to the lower house on Monday was the longest parliamentary address on record, at an hour and half.
Despite being repeatedly interrupted by the right-wing opposition, who had to be silenced by the speaker of the house, Conte still had plenty of time to promise what he called “a season of reforms” in Italy.
Firstly, Conte promised less bickering in parliament.
He said that, after a season of bitter fighting and hate propaganda, the new keyword would be respect.
“We cannot in the coming months waste our time with disputes and clashes,” he said, adding that the government must act with “new humanism” rather than arrogance.
Conte also promised a stronger pro-EU focus, calling for a “real shared project” among European countries.
“Italy will play a main role in a phase of EU reform and renovation that aims to make Europe stronger, more inclusive, closer to its citizens, more attentive to environmental sustainability and social cohesion,” he said, adding that retreating into isolationism would not serve Italy’s national interest.
The incoming coalition’s first task is submitting the upcoming 2020 budget, a key test for relations with Brussels.
Conte called for improvements to be made to the EU’s Stability and Growth Pact, which limits budget deficits to 3 per cent of gross domestic product in European countries.
The pact was the main issue between the European Commission and the previous populist government.
Conte said the government’s new fiscal policy would be simple: ensure that everyone pays tax, so that some people can pay less.
He said the government would aim to reduce the tax burden on employers so that savings could be passed on to employees, mainly by setting a minimum wage.
He also said the government would focus on improving the lives of the poor and disadvantaged, from income support for the lowest earners to help for the disabled, earthquake victims and working mothers, as well as tackling gender equalities.
Conte promised more would be done for Italy’s youth – particularly from the poorer south – in terms of training and apprenticeships, as well as investments in universities, the digital sector, and heritage sites and tourism.
Meanwhile on the controversial topic of migration, Conte disappointed human rights activists who had hoped he would reverse former interior minister Matteo Salvini’s hardline immigration policy.
However, Conte did say integration measures would be boosted, adding that both Italy and the EU must stop treating the migration phenomenon in crisis-mode, but implement concrete measures such as humanitarian corridors.
Conte pleased climate change activists when he announced that the government was preparing a “courageous and innovative” Green New Deal, which would promote urban regeneration, the use of renewable energy and the protection of biodiversity and the sea.
Conte also said he would propose a change to Italy’s constitution to cut the number of members of parliament, a move the M5S has long been pushing for.
Conte’s government must now be approved in the upper house on Tuesday.