Italian elections: a long political limbo is ahead

Matteo Renzi presents Italian Presidency’s priorities to MEPs
© European Union 2014 – European Parliament

The outcome of the Italian general elections of last Sunday was disappointing leaving the country and the European Union in shock. The win of the two anti-establishment parties together with the fact that no single party managed to get the mandate of an overall majority leaves the country in a political uncertainty where a coalition is needed to form a government.

There are a few possible coalition combinations as the Democratic Party of Mateo Renzi received only 18% of the votes and Matteo Salvini has declared that would not cooperate with the populist Five Star Movement party. Furthermore, the coalition of far-right groups and Silvio Berlusconi’s centre-right Forza Italia received 37% which lacks of absolute majority.

The rest of the EU is watching closely the developments that the Italian elections caused. Germany, the largest EU economy, is hoping that Italy will be able to form a stable government while France recognized that the migration crisis was a major issue which drove the Italian citizens’ to vote for anti-migrant parties such as the League.

Italian elections outcome

Almost 34 million Italians went to vote last Sunday which accounts for 73% of the total registered voters. The outcome of the general elections showed that the Five Star Movement (M5S) party came first with 32,68% while the Democratic Party took only 18% which led its leader, Matteo Renzi, to resign short after the announcement of the results. Another surprise was the fact that The League reached 17,3% leaving behind the Forza Italia of Silvio Berlusconi which gathered 14%. Furthermore, the centre-right coalition reached 37% gaining 151 seats at the Chamber of Deputies and 77 at the Senate of the Republic.

However, the fact that none of the parties and grand coalitions managed to win 40% of the votes, which would ensure overall majority, makes things more difficult as negotiations will begin after President Sergio Mattarella chooses which party would get the first chance to form a government.

Possible alliances

The M5S and the League are certainly the parties to heavily affect the future of the next Italian government. The question though is whether these two parties will join their forces or not.

Thus, one of the possible alliances could be a grand coalition of M5S and the League which will gather 50% of the votes and form a strong government. However, the latter would mean that Matteo Salvini, leader of the League, will not be the next Prime Minister of Italy as his party will be the junior partner. Moreover, both leaders had ruled out any partnership but Luigi di Maio changed his position after the result. In detail, the leader of the M5S stated last Monday:  “We are a political force that represents the whole country. That’s why we feel the responsibility to give Italy a government. We are ready to talk with all the other political forces, starting from the election of the two speakers of the chambers.”

Another possible combination could be a grand center-right coalition with independent MPs of the centre-left party or the M5S. Under this alliance, the League will be the major partner with Matteo Salvini to be the next Italian Prime Minister.  After the elections’ result, the leader of the League stated that will remain faithful to the party’s ideals. More specifically, Matteo Salvini said: “I see this as a vote for the future.  I am and will remain a populist, one of those who listens to the people and does their duty. We have the right and duty to govern”.

Europe’s concerns

The whole bloc fears of a new Italian populist government. Germany expressed great concerns after the outcome of the Italian elections. Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, general-secretary of Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats, stressed that it is a very difficult situation as things are unpredictable as far as the creation of the next Italian government is concerned.  What is more, a top aide for German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed her will for an Italian government with an EU orientation.

The French President Emmanuel Macron emphasized on the migration crisis which has been continuously plaguing Italy. The latter has caused the rise of populistic parties which was confirmed last Sunday. Particularly, Emmanuel Macron stated that: “Italy has been under heavy migratory pressure for months. We must keep that in mind.”

Italy’s future

All in all, the Italian people have clearly expressed their anger and indignation of the old Italian parties and European policies which have increased the unemployment and migration levels. The outcome of the general elections creates great difficulties in the formation of a coalition government which shares same views and has the absolute majority.

It will probably take some time to proceed with the talks between the parties which if they not succeed to find a common solution, then President Sergio Mattarella can choose to leave in place the current centre-left government of Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni and set up a temporary government to reform the electoral law and organise new elections.

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