Elections in Italy: ‘Something radically new is beginning in Italy’

6 March 2018 – VoxEurop

European correspondents in Italy are unanimous in their emphasis on the victory of populist and right-wing parties, the sharp drop of the Social-democrats, and the extreme difficulty of forming a government.

The political landscape is changing dramatically

Süddeutsche Zeitung Munich

“Something radically new is beginning in Italy”, writes Oliver Meiler: “the election is unsettling the foundations of the political landscape much more dramatically than expected – so dramatically, that it’s going to take a lot of skill to hold the country together”. The Rome correspondent draws four conclusions from the vote: “first, Italians have overwhelmingly voted for protest-parties – the ideologically heterogeneous and fickle Cinque Stelle, and the right-wing nationalists of Lega; second, since 1994, Italy has been dominated by Silvio Berlusconi, but it is now experiencing a transformation in both culture and leadership, to the benefit of Lega; third, the governing social-democrats have, as expected, collapsed; fourth, not one of the three coalitions is in a position to govern by itself”.

The strength of the 5 Star Movement makes its mark on elections

El País, Madrid

“The third mutation of M5S, a powerful political force with electors on the right and left of the traditional ideological axis, is under way”, observes Daniel Verdú in Rome. As election-day approached, along with their probable victory, “little by little the Five Star Movement adapted to the situation which was about to unfold. Today the movement is no longer an experiment, and has already gained much experience, with 45 municipalities, 15 MEPs, 92 deputies, 36 senators and 1,700 local representatives. There is already talk of a government lead by Di Maio, who seems disinclined to bargain for the role of prime minister. But nothing is certain”.

Italy’s election poses more questions than it answers

The Guardian, London

According to Stephanie Kirchgaessner, the Guardian’s correspondent in Rome, “when Italians wake up on Monday morning it is very likely that they will have no idea who their next prime minister will be, even after every ballot has been counted. While analysts said yesterday they were prepared for surprises, most anticipated that the results would end in deadlock, and set off a period of intense negotiations in Rome that would aim to cobble together a government by the end of March”. Lega and M5S, “once seen as fringe movements, will likely have to play a role in whatever coalition is created for the new government in order for it to look reflective of the election results”.

In Italy, it’s a victory for anti-establishment parties

Le Temps, Lausanne

“A victory for populists and eurosceptics marks Sunday’s elections in Italy. Nearly half of the electorate has indeed voted for a party which declares itself anti-establishment”, observes Antonino Galofaro from Rome, according to whom, “the results for M5S, like those for the centre-right coalition, are remarkable, but not sufficient for a majority. Who, among the winning party and the leading coalition, will be more capable of forming a government and gaining the confidence of parliament? President Sergio Mattarella will decide after hearing all the parties. Following the vote, the peninsula is now cut in two, with the north flying the colors of the right (increasingly the far right), and the south flying the flag of the Five Star Movement”.

Elections in Italy: Success for the Five Star Movement, and a deadlock

Gazeta Wyborcza, Warsaw

“The first exit polls suggest 30 percent for the Five Star Movement, a young party that has burst onto the Italian political scene declaring a break with the current system”, writes Bartosz Hlebowicz in Italy. “Up until now, Beppe Grillo’s anti-establishment party has refused to take part in government. Now it is difficult to imagine that any government can be put in place without the participation of his party, for which almost one voter in three has voted”.

Populists win in Italy, with risk of deadlock

NRC Handelsblad, Amsterdam

Marc Leijendekker in Rome observes that “two differently eurosceptic and populist parties are the victors in the Italian elections, but it is not yet clear how they can transform this victory into participation in government. The still provisional results point to a political deadlock. After a campaign dominated by themes such as employment, immigration, the old against the new, and feelings of frustration and anger among voters after years of economic crisis, almost half of the electorate has chosen a populist party. Italians take on a tougher, more nationalistic appearance after this vote. According to early indications, it will – as predicted – be extremely difficult to form a government. The ‘grand coalition’ of Berlusconi’s Forza Italia and Renzi’s PD, which many had hoped for in Brussels, cannot be achieved without the support of other parties. A Lega-M5S government seems possible, even if both parties rejected the idea during the campaign – this would be a nightmare for Brussels”.

Italy faces a political impasse after the success of the populists

I Kathimerini, Athens

“The results of the election in Italy, where the majority of votes have gone to populist and hard right parties, demonstrates the Italian population’s impatience with the European establishment”, claims the moderate Greek daily. They add that “the parties which have achieved good results are those which are eurosceptic and think that Brussels treats Italians like ‘slaves’. It’s a remarkable scenario. Especially because it comes from a country that was a founding member of the European Union and is one of the principal economies of the Mediterranean, while China and Russia are trying to divide and weaken European progress. And this is only a foretaste of the problems that may still arise. Right-wing and populist parties might have obtained more than half of the votes, but no party or coalition seems to be in a position to form a government, and the process is expected to take weeks”.

Translated by Ciaran Lawless

This article is published in association with Internazionale.

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