Elections in Italy: Will an ‘Alliance Against Nature’ Emerge?

It will be a long road. In the coming days and weeks, Italy will have to work hard, looking for a new government, which could really lead the country. The first moves, the maneuvers to explore the ‘anti-nature’ alliances between forces, which declared each other enemies before the vote, have already begun. The two great winners are the anti-systemic Five Star Movement (M5S), which got the first place with over 32% of the vote, and Matteo Salvini’s League (over 17%, surpassing Silvio Berlusconi center-right Forza Italia, which stopped at 14%) and both claim the duty and the right to govern. However, due the complicated electoral law, no one has a majority to act autonomously. 

Anyway, on Sunday, March 4, the Italians did not simply reject Matteo Renzi’s center-left Democratic Party, which is the real loser and collapsed below 20%, cashing the worst result ever. They not only invoked the strong hand against immigration by voting for the League, which surpassed Silvio Berlusconi’s center-rightists. The Italians joined the ever-growing European choir, which rejects “old politics” and no longer wants to know about the so-called traditional parties. It happened or is happening elsewhere in the European Union, from Germany to the Netherlands to Great Britain. It also happened in France, where the winning formula of Emmanuel Macron was precisely overcoming the right and the left, going beyond ideological divisions or party systems in the name of a “doing” government.

However, a picture of great uncertainties for the country and for the whole of Europe emerges from the Italian polls. One Italian in two expressed a vote which can be described as “populist” and explained by general impatience because of the recent years’ migration waves, fears generated by the long economic crisis with a great problem of unemployment (especially among the youth, at 31.5% after peaks at 40%), and with a widespread belief that people had to pay to save the banks from bankruptcy. It is eloquent that M5S won in the regions with a high unemployment rate: in Sicily, unemployment exceeds 40% and one voter in two voted for the movement led by the young politician Luigi di Maio, who proposes basic income for those who are jobless. And in the extreme South, washed by the sea which became the gateway of immigration to the EU, the League, which only in January removed the word “Nord” from its statute, also ranks well. The center-left government comes out with broken bones.

This protest vote terrorizes Brussels. As the European capital was waiting for the Italian electoral storm, which became even more violent than expected, there was a hope for a possible Democratic Party/Forza Italia alliance or perhaps for a future government led by Silvio Berlusconi, who was re-accredited as guarantor of moderation and fidelity to the European path of the country. But in the third-largest Eurozone economy, the majority chose their own eurosceptic parties. So, after the vote, the European Commission released a statement, saying that it trusted Italian president Sergio Mattarella, who now finds himself having to manage the “mission impossible”: to bring political forces to a “non-belligerency pact” which allows first to select the leadership of the Chamber and the Senate, and then those in charge of forming a new government. The scenarios are different and may change from day to day, from hour to hour. But it remains clear that anyone who wants to form a new executive, including the M5S or the League, will have to seek an alliance with one enemy or another. Few believe in it now, but the numbers indicate that the solution could be in a pact between the two winners: the Five Star Movement supported in some way by the League. That is a government of “populists”, determined to change the rules in the relationship with the EU and the Eurozone, including on immigration. And it can radically change the center of gravity of the Italian foreign policy, beginning with relations with Russia and leaning toward a more critical approach to the United States.

Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.