Unexpected Outcomes of an Inconclusive Italian Election – RantAWeek

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Unexpected Outcomes of an Inconclusive Italian Election

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Posted by mjdudak on March 3, 2013 at 7:45 pm

If we here in America think that our politics have become too partisan and too polarized, we really ought to take a look across the Atlantic, towards Europe for a reality check. While our parties have shifted slightly away from the center, and grass roots movement like the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street gained momentum for a bit, by now, both Democrats and Republicans alike have realized that the fringes are not the way to go. Yet in Europe, there is a growing movement towards populism, and away from pragmatism. Last year, the Greek neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party received a surprisingly strong showing. In France, Marine Le Pen’s right-wing Front National became the third largest party, while Francois Hollande’s Socialist Party won the parliament and the presidency. And now, it is Italy’s turn. After only a bit more than a year in office, Mario Monti resigned in December, remaining on as care-taker until an election could be held. Well, this week, that election was held, and the results were inconclusive. We now take a look at the top four vote-getting parties and what they mean for Italy.

Finishing in first, with 29.5% of the vote, was Pier Luigi Bersani’s Democratic Party. Campaigning primarily on an anti-austerity platform, the Democratic Party is the center-left party in Italy. Just a few months ago, it looked like their primary competition was crumbling, and the Democratic Party would be a shoo-in, yet now, the situation has changed. Winning a majority in the lower house and only a plurality in the Senate, the Democratic Party will be forced to form a coalition if it wishes to rule Italy, something which may force it into an awkward situation.

Finishing second, with 29.1% of the vote, was our good pal, Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Freedom (PdL) centre-right coalition. After years of running Italy into the ground, and of course his famous Bunga-Bunga sex and alcohol infused parties, Berlusconi was forced out of his office as Prime Minister on a vote of no-confidence by the Italian parliament. It initially appeared as if he had left politics, but we were fooled. Winning only a fraction of seats in the lower house, the PdL did exceptionally well in the Senate, still without a majority, but with a plurality only 6 seats smaller than the Democratic Party’s. Their victory was in large part due to their coalition with the right-wing Northern League.

As a surprise finisher in third, with 25.5% of the vote, was comedian Beppe Grillo’s Five Star Movement. Beppe Grillo’s party really demonstrates the political attitude of most people in Italy right now; which is to say, they hate politicians. Grillo, rather than being a politician, economist, or anything of the sort, is a comedian. And most of his party does not have a single unified platform- rather they represent the sort of anti-party that Italy wants. All of this is incredibly illogical though. Five Star Movement’s candidates were chosen in a primary held online with a very small turn out. Most of them have no training in political science, economics or foreign policy. Instead, they are “everyday” people. In one region, the assemblyman and Senator are a mother-son pair. They even prefer ditching the titles of assemblyman and Senator in favor of the term “spokesperson.” While they do present some compelling anti-establishment arguments, their lack of organization not only means that they will not progress politics in Italy, it also means that their strong turn out may severly hold Italian politics back as they are unlikely to enter into a coalition with any other party.

Finally, in fourth place, with a meager 10% of the vote, was Mario Monti’s Civic Choice centrist coalition. After running the country over the past year as a technocratic leader, Monti initially decided that he would step down and let actual politicians take over, but then decided to lead a centrist coalition, and only remain on as prime minister if this coalition succeeded  It was a long shot and alas, they did not succeed. But the failure of this coalition essentially proved the fears of many outside of Italy, from the European Central Bank to the creditor countries such as France and Germany. The fear was that, after Monti, Italy would move back to politics, and threaten the stability that Monti worked so hard to obtain.

Until Italy establishes an actual government, the world will look nervously at Italy over the course of the next few weeks as the party leaders try to obtain a coalition which gives them control of the country. Bersani and Berlusconi may be forced into a coalition as it seems that Grillo will not enter a coalition anytime soon. Needless to say, this pairing of parties which have long been rivals could be awkward, but with the failure of Monti’s pragmatism, may lead to real progress in Italy.

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1 Comment

  • On March 3, 2013 at 9:01 pm Anonymous said

    Thanks for finally posting an article! GO MONTI!


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