The umpteenth Italian overturn takes Renzi and PD to unprecedented victory at EU elections

Herman van Rompuy, Matteo Renzi, Italian Prime Minister, and José Manuel Barroso (from right to left)

Herman van Rompuy, Matteo Renzi, Italian Prime Minister, and José Manuel Barroso (from right to left), EC Audiovisual Services

It’s been already three days since the final results of the EU Elections entered our homes and we had some time to digest and discuss about them. No matter how you would like to see it, Italy has surprised Europe once more. This is not exactly a positive thing for a country that is in desperate need of stability, but at the same time something we cannot deny. Italy is Europe’s chameleon, with a political situation that changed face and body more than once in less than 16 months.

It was one year and a half ago, January 2013, that one month before the national elections everyone predicted the PD, the centre-left party, to easily win the elections, with Pierluigi Bersani to be Italy’s next prime minister, Berlusconi to disappear forever and Mario Monti to be the EU’s best friend in the Italian parliament. Well, none of the above happened like expected. Bersani won the elections but was never able to run the country, Berlusconi made the phoenix look like a beginner when he rose from his ashes and the technocrat Monti, he completely disappeared. Oh, and there was a man called Beppe Grillo which gained an incredible, unexpected 25.5% with his anti-establishment Five Star Movement. After those elections there was Bersani serving as prime minister, as said, then the unlucky Enrico Letta and finally, after many turbulences, the young Matteo Renzi.

Everybody (or better said, most of the journalists and opinionists) then predicted that, in such fragile equilibrium, the euro-sceptic, anti-establishment movement lead by Grillo could have been the one to gain most of the Italian votes. But another surprise from the land of espresso was came last weekend. Monday morning’s one and only truth was that the European elections had given Italy’s Prime Minister Renzi a sharp victory, as the PD, the Democratic Party, won almost 41% of the votes in Belpaese.

Not even the most optimistic PD polls could have predicted this outcome, with preictions a few days before the vote showing the M5S (Movimento 5 Stelle – 5 Star Movement) going hand by hand with the PD. The former comedian’s movement gained a disappointing 21.15%, with recent opinion surveys indicating that many of the M5S’s supporters were confused and angered by Mr Grillo’s policy of non-co-operation with the centre-left. Many analysts vow that the returns showed that millions of M5S voters switched to the PD. We should never forget that the electoral result, although disappointing, is something important anyway, given the fact that 16 months ago no one was taking Mr Grillo’s movement seriously. The M5S, with more than one-fifth of the national vote, remains today one of the most popular in Europe outside the traditional mainstream political mix. Only Marine Le Pen’s Front National and Syriza in Greece did better than that.

Moreover, Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia received just 16.8%, the lowest ever vote share in his two-decade political career. Angelino Alfano’s (former Berlusconi ally) Nuovo Centrodestra coalition barely got over the threshold for representation in the European Parliament with 4.38%, while the euro-sceptical North League, led by Matteo Salvini, received a moderate 6.15%.

The poll’s outcome gives some clear political conclusions for sure. Italy has voted for Europe, first of all. Grillo, although not making anti-Europeism exactly his main policy, has repeatedly pushed for a referendum on leaving the Euro, and believes that Europe deserves radical changes. His loss may tell that Italians don’t want this to happen, especially in terms of anti-Euro solutions.

Second, the scale of the victory seems to ‘legitimise’ the non-elected 39 year old prime minister at last. Renzi has got no excuses now and he knows that the post elections honeymoon will not last forever. The time has come to implement the ambitious plan of reforms he had promised so far. Italy’s sclerotic economy needs reforms very soon, and Renzi could have the right chance, as the European stock markets seemed to have taken his victory positively.

The FTSE MIB rose 2.7 percent on Monday, outpacing other major European indexes. Some observers believe that Sunday’s success would even allow Renzi to call anticipated national elections and consolidate his power in parliament. Renzi himself dismissed the idea, saying parliament should continue to its natural end in 2018.

Third, these results might allow Italy to have a stronger “presence” in Europe. In an after-elections situation which is actually positive for pro-EU forces, Italy’s Democratic Party will become the second-largest group in Strasbourg after Merkel’s centre-right bloc, and the biggest in the Party of European Socialists. The Belpaese could now become Southern European countries’ main vehicle of persuasion of Mrs Merkel, almost at the beginning of Italy’s rotating six-month presidency of the EU, which starts in July.

Early Monday morning Renzi tweeted his satisfaction, saying that he’s “moved and determined” after what he defined “a historic result”. He also declared that he is “determined now to work for an Italy that changes Europe”.

Follow @carlomotta_ on Twitter

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

This Chinese tech giant’s latest gadget is… a bus

Conflict of interest and misuse of EU funds: The case of Czech PM Babiš

How to build a model for human security in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

European Commission kicks off major EU trade policy review

5 ways cities can use emerging technologies to fight climate change

UN chief praises impact of Palestine refugee agency as ‘our common success’, at key pledging conference

Data and the future of financial services

EU-U.S. Privacy Shield: Second review shows improvements but a permanent Ombudsperson should be nominated by 28 February 2019

Political solution ‘long overdue’ to protect the children of eastern Ukraine

Road crash deaths and injuries in the world’s cities can be stopped. Here’s how

UN investigates systematic sexual violence across South Sudan

First full satellite survey of devastated ancient Aleppo raises recovery hopes

Is there a cure for corruption in Greece?

Coronavirus: 4 tips for parents who are homeschooling

Terrorism ‘spreading and destabilizing’ entire regions, Guterres warns States, at key Kenya conference

Yemen conflict: ‘Fragile’ hopes rise, as violence decreases and life-saving humanitarian funding surges

Africa’s shrinking lake shows the impact of climate change on women and indigenous people

Why digital inclusion must be at the centre of resetting education in Africa

Independent rights experts sound alarm at Iran protest crackdown, internet blackout

Gender equality: Parliament strives to be frontrunner among EU Institutions

Despite progress, companies face gender equality ‘backlash’: UN business body

The historic female struggle in medicine

Here’s how we can make innovation more inclusive

Tuesday’s Daily Brief: prizewinning journalists freed in Myanmar, new tracking tool for suspected terrorists, and a global bid to stop snakebite deaths

We are witnessing a revolution in genomics – and it’s only just begun

Hydrogen power is here to stay. How do we convince the public that it’s safe?

Migration surge leaves children stranded, begging on Djibouti’s streets

Amsterdam is developing a fleet of autonomous boats to reduce city traffic

Will Brexit shatter the EU or is it still too early to predict?

Sustainable transport can’t just depend on batteries. Here’s why

Mental health and suicide: when the alarm bells are faced with deaf ears

In Chad, top UN officials say humanitarian response must go ‘hand in hand’ with longer-term recovery

Taj Mahal closes as European Union considers non-essential travel ban – Today’s COVID-19 updates

China has announced ambitious plans to cut single-use plastic

7 ways the ‘biological century’ will transform healthcare

Nowhere is safe to hide in war-torn Yemen, say UN-appointed rights experts

Mergers: Commission refers acquisition of newly created joint venture by Telefónica and Liberty Global to the UK competition authority

Tackling youth unemployment through the eyes of a European entrepreneur

VAT Gap: EU countries lost €137 billion in VAT revenues in 2017

This is how climate change is impacting the ocean – and what we can do about it

Supply chains have been upended. Here’s how to make them more resilient

How Europe’s green tech ‘scale-ups’ can help tackle climate change

How nudge theory can help empty our plastic-filled ‘drawers of shame’

Coronavirus (COVID-19) update: Busting the myth by looking at the facts

We are stronger than this pandemic (COVID-19)

The gender gap of medicine in 2018

Obese people more likely to smoke, says new gene research: WHO

Seeing through the mist of myths of Coronavirus

COVID-19: MEPs debate how to best protect cross-border and seasonal workers

From Graduation to professional career: has medicine, in Brazil, become more feminist?

What can be done to avoid the risk of being among the 7 million that will be killed by air pollution in 2020?

Millions of people eat octopus- here’s why we shouldn’t

These Dutch microgrid communities can supply 90% of their energy needs

Trump ‘used’ G20 to side with Putin and split climate and trade packs

After the George Floyd protests, what next for racial justice in the US?

To end deforestation, we must protect community land rights

New round of bargaining for the 2014 EU budget late in autumn

UN agencies call for more resettlement and end to detention of asylum seekers in Libya

Turkey: Commission continues humanitarian support for refugees

Why ‘floating wind’ is key to the energy transition and how to get it onto the sea quickly

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s