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The Complexities of The Italian Election

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It would be fair to say that elections are never a simple affair, but when it comes to the upcoming Italian one an additional degree of chaos comes into the picture.

Let’s not forget that there have been 60 different governmental heads since the Second World War in Italy. It’s a country where it’s extremely rare to see a majority government as well, with historic rules making this very difficult indeed.

Following on from the above, let’s take a look at the Italian election in-detail and see what the upcoming one is about to entail.

 

How does the election work?

It would be fair to say that a general Italian election is formatted a little differently to others around the world. It takes advantage of both First Past the Post and Proportional Representation.

If we hone in on the Chamber of Deputies, 232 seats are elected by First Past the Post while 386 are with Proportional Representation. The other 12 seats are designated for politicians who reside overseas.

If we then turn to the upper house of the Italian parliament; 101 members are elected by VPTP, 207 through PR and the remaining six by overseas voters.

To make things a little more complex, the rules have changed somewhat with this election. For many years, the laws stated that a majority would be handed to any party who secured 40% of the vote. This law no longer exits, although the new regulations have only been in place since October.

History has meant that parties tend to form coalitions, in a bid to enhance their chances of achieving a majority. If we were to coin an example with the existing government, this is led by Paulo Gentiloni but actually has ministers within it from four separate parties.

 

The Five Star movement

One of the big parties of this year’s election is Five Star. They may have only been founded in 2009, but that is seemingly irrelevant. They have been leading in the vast majority of polls and it is suggested that they will claim more seats than anyone else in the lower house of parliament (the Chamber of Deputies).

Their progress has come as a surprise when you consider their policies. They can’t be regarded as either a left-wing or right-wing policy – and this is something that they like to echo to their supporters. Instead, they are anti-establishment, anti-immigration and push hard on green policies. Bearing this in mind, their name is derived from five core issues; sustainable transport, sustainable development, a right to internet access, water owned by the public and environmentalism.

Their history is somewhat interesting as well. Their leader is 31-years-old and goes by the name of Luigi Di Maio. He’s only held the post since October 2017 but the most intriguing element about him is that he’s never held employment. In fact, one Italian newspaper described him as a “former waiter”.

This is arguably what is allowing so many people to resonate with the party. It is speculated that the people of Italy have become disillusioned with both left and right-wing policies, so the movement of a party that doesn’t really fit in either has been music to a lot of ears.

 

Silvio Berlusconi

In the midst of the election, there have been some other interesting developments. The world might know of Silvio Berlusconi, for the simple fact that he was sentenced to four years in prison in 2013 after being convicted of tax fraud. Due to his age, he was actually spared jail, and completed the sentence with unpaid community work.

What makes the situation interesting now is that his conviction means that he technically cannot hold legislative office for the next six years. However, he can still run as leader, meaning that it will be even more intriguing what happens if his party is successful in this election.

While outsiders might believe that they won’t be successful due to their “criminal” links, this isn’t the case. Berlusconi is a very popular politician, and his party is tipped to receive about 18% of the popular vote. They are also said to be teaming up with Lega Nord, a far-right party that should attract around 13% of voters. Lega Nord is one of the more controversial parties in the run-in and some of their policies include being anti-EU, reopening brothels and closing the Italian borders.

 

Who will win the election?

The immediate assumption is that Five Star will win the election, courtesy of their estimated 28% of the vote. However, there might be a stumbling block. Historically, this party has never been open to the idea of a coalition, which might mean that it’s simply not possible to rule with another party. There are suggestions that this stance is becoming less strict, but to treat it as a foregone conclusion would be completely wrong.

Next on the left is the Democratic Party. While they might only be expected to obtain 23% of the vote, the fact that they are historically inclined to work with coalition partners might work in their favor. Possible parties that they might work with include the likes of Together Italy and More Europe, which could push their share of the vote over 30%.

To throw something else into the mix, if we return to Silvio Berlusconi, his Forza Italia and Lega Nord coalition might be able to obtain 40% of the vote. Of course, this depends on a lot of factors, but as the run-up to the election heats up it is becoming clear that there is no guaranteed winner this time around.