ROME — A new Italian government appointed Friday has named Guido Crosetto as the country’s defense minister, marking a return to government for the 59-year-old who served as a junior defense minister a decade ago.
Crosetto has since acquired further experience, having spent much of the last eight years running AIAD, Italy’s defense industry association, making him the first defense minister in recent years to move from industry into government.
Crosetto is part of a new lineup of Italian government ministers named Friday by a right-wing political coalition, which was tapped to form a government by Italy’s president.
The coalition is led by Giorgia Meloni, head of the Brothers of Italy party. Meloni is set to become Italy’s first female prime minister when she is sworn in by the president on Saturday morning.
The Brothers of Italy emerged as the country’s biggest party in elections last month and have allied with the League party and by Forza Italia — a party headed by former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to attain a sizable majority in Parliament.
Once a member of Forza Italia, which named him as a junior defense minister between 2008 and 2011, Crosetto then left the party to co-found Brothers of Italy with Meloni in 2012. The party traces its roots back to Italy’s post-war fascist MSI party, although Meloni has renounced fascism and describes Brothers of Italy as a modern conservative party.
After helping found Brothers of Italy, Crosetto left politics to take over AIAD in 2014 before a stint back in politics with the party. He then rejoined AIAD, where he worked until he was named defense minister on Friday.
During his time at AIAD, Crosetto was often outspoken in defending Italian industry. In 2017, he accused American company Lockheed Martin of breaking promises to Italian firms about workshare on the F-35 fighter jet program. In 2019, he said plans by Germany and France to forge ahead alone with efforts for a sixth-generation fighter were an affront to Italy.
Meloni’s coalition has previously committed to raising defense spending to reach the target of 2% of gross domestic product set by NATO, but analysts have argued it may only manage a slight increase next year if it focuses on flagship tax cuts or pension increases.
Tom Kington is the Italy correspondent for Defense News.