Italy's Forza Italia to vote for von der Leyen despite Meloni's abstention

European Union leaders informal summit in Brussels

MILAN (Reuters) - Italy's Forza Italia, part of the right-wing ruling coalition, will vote in favour of Ursula von der Leyen as head of the European Commission, foreign minister and head of the party Antonio Tajani said on Friday.

The move is in line with the centre-right European People's Party (EPP) stance but is in stark contrast to the decision of Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni to abstain from supporting von der Leyen's second mandate at the EU leaders summit on Thursday.

"Forza Italia will vote (Roberta) Metsola President of the Parliament and von der Leyen for the EU Commission. In tune with EPP," Tajani said in a post on X.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni criticised on Wednesday plans to share out the top jobs in EU institutions, saying they ignored right-wing parties' surge in popularity at the latest European Parliament elections.

The three parties backing Meloni's ruling coalition have different stances in the European Parliament. Brothers of Italy is with the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) party, the League is in the Identity and Democracy (ID) group while Forza Italia is in the EPP.

(Reporting by Andrea Mandala, Writing by Romolo Tosiani; Editing by Giulia Segreti, Gianluca Semeraro and Sharon Singleton)