Europe Today

The weird puzzle of the italian elections

|Mauro Casarotto

An Italian trying to explain the elections in his country to his fellow European citizens

In order to understand what could happen after the next 4th of March, when Italy will hold its political elections, it’s wise to remember some crucial points regarding the Italian political system:

  • The Italian Parliament is formed by two houses, the ‘Camera dei Deputati’ and the ‘Senato della Repubblica’, directly elected by the citizens. Having different electoral laws and composition, both the Camera and the Senato vote the confidence to Government and have decisional powers about the same questions (the so called ‘perfect bicameralism’);
  • the new electoral law permits parties to create coalitions before the vote; nevertherless it is not compulsory to maintain that coalition after the vote, so parties can form different coalitions after the elections;
  • the italian electoral law, rather similar for both the houses, elects about 1/3 of the members of Parliament through a majoritarian system (each seat goes directly to the candidate who has the majority of the votes) and about 2/3 with a proportional system (the seats are divided proportionally among all parties and coalitions of parties);
  • The Premier is not directly elected by the citizens; he or she is nominated by the President of the Republic (who is elected by the members of the Parliament and the representatives of the regions) and who selects the person that will have more chance of collecting enough consensus among the members of the Parliament and acquire the confidence of both the Camera dei Deputati and the Senato.

The current Italian political system actually counts three different main political forces: the coalition led by the Partito Democratico (the party of Paolo Gentiloni, the present Italian Premier, a post socialist party), the coalition led by Forza Italia ( whose leader is Silvio Berlusconi, a quite conservative party) and Lega ( whose leader is Matteo Salvini, eurosceptic party) and Movimento 5 Stelle (anti establishment party) which runs alone.

The polls can be precise or not, but, as you can recognize looking at the map which indicates the probable winners of the electoral districts of the peninsula, some elements appear quite clear:

  • The Movimento 5 Stelle will almost surely result in being the first party regarding the number of total votes; nevertheless it will be penalized because it is not part of any coalition and almost surely it will have fewer elected members if compared with the main coalitions;
  • The coalition led by Lega and Forza Italia is the only one who could have a theoretical possibility to win the election and form an autonomous Government, being in an advantage situation in a large number of electoral districts, but it’s very difficult for this coalition to reach an independent majority in both the Camera and the Senato;
  • The coalition including the party of the current Premier, Partito Democratico, will probably loose many elected members both in the Camera and Senato, but it will conserve the possibility to remain as first party in the Parliament, considering that the Lega-Forza Italia coalition is formed by parties with similar force, while the Partito Democratico is the only big party in its coalition.

This very unusual situation could generate a situation in which we will have, at the same time, a party which, individually, will have more votes (Movimento 5 Stelle), a coalition (Lega+Forza Italia+allies) that will result having a total number of votes higher than the first party and another coalition (Partito Democratico+allies) that could anyway guarantee to the Premier’s party the relative majority of the seats in the Parliament. And a very high possibility that none of these three forces will have a majority in order to form a Government.

If the Movimento 5 Stelle will confirm its tendency to not form alliances with other parties, the only possibile solution will be the creation of an alliance between the two main coalitions. However, it’s very difficult to imagine how two very different political forces like the Lega, that is considering the possibility of an Italexit or at least the withdrawal from the Euro common currency, and the Partito Democratico, with its Secretary, Matteo Renzi, who is talking during the electoral campaign about the ‘United States of Europe’, could coexist in the same Government. Then, it’s probable that an eventual Government coalition will not be a great coalition, but a small one, maybe with only 2 of the 4 main parties, most likely the Partito Democratico and Forza Italia, that have poltical agendas that could leave space for an agreement on Europe, the migrant crisis, international relations, social and economical measures.

If what the polls say is true and if Italy will not have a coalition Government, probably the country will have new elections with the possibility to have the President of the Republic appointing a Government – may be a minority government – with the only objective to change the electoral law that, actually, creates a situation in which it’s very difficult to have an independent majority in the Parliament.

Map Legend:

bright colors: uncertain, advantage of less than 5%;

normal colors: advantage between 5 and 10%;

dark colors: advantage of more than 10%.

The map and all of its informations were provided thanks to the website https://www.rosatellum.infothat will monitor the electoral results live next Sunday.

(picture by Francesco Saverio Quatrano)

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