Discussion: Elections in Italy

 


M: Good evening! Welcome to our tonight’s discussion: Elections in Italy.

On Sunday, Italians waited in long queues at the polls to vote in an election that could change history in Europe.

So, who are the candidates? What are the results? And what happens next?

Tonight, we will answer to these questions.

Anna, what is the situation right now?

A:

Di Maio wins, Italy ungovernable

was the front page headline of the daily newspaper La Stampa as the early numbers rolled in.

The populist Five Star Movement, a fighter of the established order, was the big winner in the general election.

However, the results suggest none of Italy’s three main factions would be able to rule alone. What does it mean?

To begin with, let’s look at the provisional results.

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The two houses are essentially equally powerful. To form a government, the approval of both is needed.

M: But no coalition has a majority!

A: Exactly. That’s why, there has to be a new deal, to avoid a new election. Seats are awarded by a complex system involving both direct constituencies and proportional representation.

Now, let’s look at the party-by-party results.

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The main alliances are made up of several parties.

As you can see, Five Star takes the lead.

While the centre-right alliance also covers a broad part of the political spectrum, with its Forza Italia, Lega, and Fratelli d’Italia.

The strength of the elements within the alliance may affect what deals can be struck in forming a new government.

M: So who are the winners and the losers?

A: The results are rather suprising.

Matteo Renzi – Democratic party

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The Democratic party was expecting to do badly, but this is worse even than they feared. Yesterday, Renzi officially stepped down as the leader of the Democratic party.

Silvio Berlusconi – Forza Italia

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Although part of the biggest coalition, Berlusconi’s Forza Italia is not the biggest party within the alliance. Moreover, Mr. Berlusconi is barred from office until next year for tax fraud conviction.

Matteo Salvini – Lega

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Before, Lega was – by design – a strictly regional force. This year, a strong nationwide vote has made it a leader in the right-wing. This means power in negotiations for Salvini who always praised Brexit and opposed the euro.

Luigi di Maio – Five Star Movement

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Despite their protestations, Five Star did very well. They now are instrumental in forming a new government. But to do that, they need to set aside their anti-politics and make some deals.

To understand the results better, let’s look at the regional and demographic trends.

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As you can see, in areas with high percentages of under-30s, Five Star did well.

… but in areas with high proportions of university graduates, especially in the northern university cities, they did rather badly.

M: Why?

A:

  • 600,000 Libyan migrants in Italy since 2013
  • Unemployment = 11%
  • Millions at risk of poverty, especially in the south

M: So, what happens next? Will Five Star rule the country?

A: Actually, no. No party will be ablу to rule alone, as none has enough seats in the 630-seat parliament.

So now, Five Star must find coalition partners.

M: Who will be their partners?

A: We don’t know.

Several ways are mathematically possible, though none is politically easy:

  • Populist and far right: Five Star + League
  • Populist, rightwing, far right: Five Star + Forza Italia + League
  • Rightwing and centre left: Forza Italia + League + Democratic party
  • Populist and centre left: Five Star + Democratic party
  • Fresh elections

The results show Italy will face weeks of uncertainty and horse-trading between the parties.

M: What does it mean for EU?

A: Quoting Matteo Salvini:

The euro is and remains a failure. It is clear in our minds that the system of monetary union is destined to end, and therefore we wish to prepare for that moment.

We couldn’t give a damn about bond spreads. It is ‘No’ to Berlin, ‘No’ to Paris, and ‘No’ to Brussels: Italians are going to decide for Italy from now on.

What are your thoughts on the topic? Share your opinion with us in the comments!

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