Comment: A Last Look Before the Italian Elections

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The article is written by Riccardo Cavosi

The Italian elections are coming up and uncertainty still reigns supreme. On November 3rd, 2017 the new electoral law, “Rosatellum”, entered officially into force, establishing the election of both Chambers of the Italian Parliament: The Chamber of Deputies and the Senate. As it is well known, the law makes particularly uncertain the outcome of the elections as the distribution of seats in the Parliament will be made on the basis of a mixed system. In order to govern, the leader party, or more likely a coalition of parties, will need to reach a minimum quorum of 40 per cent of votes. This, however, won’t be an easy goal for any of them.

In order to have a clear picture of the situation, it might result useful to make a sum up of the parties competing for the Italian Government and which their programs are. They can be divided into four main categories, the centre-left coalition, the centre-right one, Liberi e Uguali and Movimento 5 Stelle (M5S), which claims not to be in either sides.

From what it is known from the polls so far, M5S is the party projected to gain the highest share of votes (around the 27%). However, as they clearly expressed their unwillingness towards coalitions with other parties, they automatically cut themselves out of the race (40 per cent is a way too far even with the best expectations). The main outlines of their program are the stream-lining of bureaucracy and minimum wage for those citizens who either have a very low income or none at all. This idea is common to many other parties running for the government, although several economists believe it will be a very tough job.

The centre-left coalition is formed mainly by two parties, Partito Democratico and +Europa by Emma Bonino. These two have reached a forecast of 25% for the first one and 3% for the other, therefore reaching around a 28% in coalition. Still not enough for the minimum 40 per cent to win the elections. Their program is based on a minimum granted wage, on the promotion of open-ended contracts and on the extension of the €80 bonus (already in force for some special categories of employees) also to self-employed workers with a VAT registration number and to families with children up to 18 years old. The Partito Democratico, (PD), is the outgoing leader party which governed for the past three mandates with their respective prime ministers Enrico Letta, Matteo Renzi and Paolo Gentiloni.

As far as the centre-right coalition is concerned, more attention should be put into it, as it might be the only one able to reach the 40 per cent needed. Its main three parties are: Lega (Matteo Salvini), Forza Italia (Silvio Berlusconi, yes you read it well, Berlusconi once again) and Fratelli D’Italia (Giorgia Meloni). Even if they have some divergences of plans, they signed a common program with outlines that every parties of the coalition will have to follow during the next government. In case of victory, the Head of the Government will be the leader of the party with the highest number of votes among the three. Expressing something they are more in accordance with one word, it would be: immigration. Indeed, all of them built their political campaign on immigration issues, clearly playing the populist part against immigrants because, unfortunately, that is a hot issue in Italy at the moment. They want to enhance the controls at the borders refusing new immigrants and sending back those who are already in the country with an illegal status. Apart from this, their main proposals rely on reaching more independence from Europe, on reducing taxes and, once again, on minimum wage.

Last but not Least, Liberi e Uguali, created by the former of the President of the Senate Pietro Grasso, which, to many people, seems to be the only option to give a vote to the left. A brand-new party, created by the schism into the PD, whose program includes the reduction of military expense, the abolition of university taxes and the abolition of the Bossi-Fini Law, among others.

Now a question arises: what happens if none of these parties or coalitions will be able to reach the 40 per cent necessary to govern? If so, the final decision will be held by the Head of State, better known as the President of Italian Republic, Sergio Mattarella. He will be able to either call for new elections, forming a temporary government in the meanwhile, or forming a new government whose Head of Government would be the leader of party with the highest number of votes (Also in this case a temporary government might be necessary). This last possibility, where none of the parties reaches the minimum required, is a real one already experienced in Italy several times in the past.



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