Italian elections 2018

Italian elections 2018. How to read them

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The 4th of march Italian citizens were called to cast a ballot for Parliamentary election.

The new electoral system allocates the 36 percent of the seats, in the Chamber of Deputies and in the Senate, with the “first past the post” method, and the remaining 63 percent proportionally. Parties have to exceed a threshold of 3% to reach the Parliament.

This law – voted for by a mixed majority of the left-wing Democratic Party, Berlusconi’s party Forza Italia and the League party (right) – it’s been an element that caused the current political impasse, but not the only one. Turn-out was about 73%, but no party reached the absolute majority of the seats.

The results show a hung parliament in which the largest parliamentary group will be formed by the anti-establishment 5 Stars Movement, thanks to the 32,7% obtained, above all, in south constituencies. The leader, Luigi Di Maio, in his first speech after elections, spoke about “Third Italian Republic”, hinting at a new era in which citizens positions will be finally represented in the Parliament. If in the past years the movement has shown his anti-European soul, these last months of electoral campaign have been more “institutional” and “responsible”, due to the probable success in these elections. The new attitude allowed it to drum up votes both from right and left electorate.

Italian elections 2018
Luigi Di Maio at the 5 Stars Movement post elections party. Repubblica

Despite the large success of the 5 Stars Movement, the centre-right coalition obtained the relative majority with 37% of votes cast. Salvini’s League reached 17,4%, overtaking, for the first time, Forza Italia (14%). This statistic is the key point of this round of voting, because it shows the change from a neo-liberal to a populist position of the conservative area.

The leader of the League Matteo Salvini, has started a new process leading his party, born in 1989 as a secessionist movement in the North of Italy, to national positions, allowing it to have the support of the central and southern territories in addition to the historic consent in the North. He focused on immigration, on increasing the retirement age and drawing up a flat tax proposal, the latter of which has a broad consensus in the Italian independent contractor area. He also adopted anti-Europe and sovereign positions closer to the extreme right French party Front National.

Italian elections 2018
Matteo Salvini (League). La Stampa

The patriotic party Brothers of Italy (4,3%) and the catholic party Noi con l’Italia (1,3%) were the others actors in the coalition.

The centre-left Democratic Party (in Italy PD), that has governed in the last 5 years, lost approximately more than 6 points compared to last general election in 2013 (falling to a disappointing 18,7%). The “red belt” in the central Regions (such as Emilia Romagna, Toscana and Marche), changed its colour to blue, following the european left-wing parties crisis.

Italian elections 2018
The results in the constituencies. Blue: Centre-right coalition; Yellow: 5 Stars Movement; Red: Democratic Party. Repubblica

On this background the past PD Prime Minister, and actual leader of the party, Matteo Renzi has conducted the electoral campaign with a pride attitude, claiming the results of left-wing governments, such as the “job act” and the “good school” law. However, his centralist point of view and his inconsistency (he committed to end his politics career after the defeat at the last referendum in 2016), have contributed to the PD nosedive.

Italian elections 2018
Matteo Renzi, leader of PD. retenews24

The division in three blocks proves that no one will be able to form a government if not with an agreement with more parties in the Houses. There are more scenarios, but no one seems to be simple in the current situation. The three leaders Di Maio, Renzi and Salvini don’t support bilateral alliances of 5 Stars Movement with League, neither with the Democratic Party.

This could be a way out to avoid new elections in the next months, but at the moment it doesn’t seem realistic.

Some, coming mainly from the 5 Stars Movement, proposed a government based on common points of the parties programmes, where, basically, the majority should derive from the agreement on individual themes proposed during the legislation.

A solution could be the “Government of the President”, in which an institutional and extra-party personality, appointed by the President of the Italian Republic, chairs a temporary government to approve a majority electoral system to hold new elections.

Italian elections 2018
The Italian Head of State Sergio Mattarella. quinewspisa

As I said before, these assumptions aren’t very realistic and the match will be played under the control and the power of the Head of State, who will have a central role in the future of the country.

Italian history teaches us that in politics, in the end, an agreement is always achievable, and it might even be hiding in plain sight, although we just might not be able to see it yet…

Cover image: Dribble, Optima Italia

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