Mr. Conte also vaguely held out the possibility of overhauling Italy’s citizenship laws, “eliminating discriminatory elements.” Currently, children born in Italy to foreign parents can apply for citizenship only after turning 18. The Democratic Party has lobbied to grant citizenship at birth.
Mr. Conte’s speech was repeatedly interrupted by lawmakers from the League, who chanted, “Elections! Elections! Elections!”
That cry was echoed outside, in a square adjacent to the lower house, where opponents of the new government waved Italian flags.
“Italy shouldn’t be governed by Merkel and Macron,” said Martina Mantovani, referring to the leaders of Germany and France. She said she had traveled from Milan to express her anger at a coalition that she considers subservient to the European Union. “I want a government that defends Italians,” she said.
Luciano Paduano, from Termoli, on the eastern coast of Italy, attended the rally with a busload of other Brothers of Italy supporters. “We want the right to elect the government ourselves — the people are sovereign,” he said, expressing anger that snap elections had not been called. “When the Five Star was in opposition, they were against horse trading. Now they’ve done the same thing,” he added.
Some in the crowd offered stiff-armed fascist salutes as Giorgia Meloni, the leader of Brothers of Italy, addressed the protesters. Addressing the majority lawmakers inside Parliament, she called out, “Get out of the palazzo, and have the courage to face popular consensus,” to loud cheers. “The government born today is against the will of the Italian people,” she added.
In Parliament, Mr. Conte quoted a former Italian president, Giuseppe Saragat, who had warned that democracy was not just about majority rule, but also about mutual respect. In the absence of such respect, Mr. Conte said, democracy can become “only the mask of a new tyranny.”