Member and neighbour States

Italian uncertainty

On Sunday and Monday, Italians are going to polling stations to elect the Chamber of Representatives and the Senate in a context of economic, financial and even political crisis. 

After a feeble or even dull campaign, uncertainty remains regarding the final result, so that the hypothesis of an ungovernable Italy without ruling majority is less and less hypothetical and increasingly credible. Admittedly, the Centre-Left Partito Democratico is still ahead in the opinion polls and his leader, Pierluigi Bersani, is sure to be the next President of the Council. Nonetheless, if he is ensured to get a ruling majority at the Lower Chamber, he is not certain to get that majority at the Senate where everything is going to depend on the elections in Lombardy, the most important (politically speaking) and richest region of the country.

What is more, the probable future Head of Government has to take into account Silvio Berlusconi’s (and his ally, the Lega Nord, a populist and extremist party) and Beppe Grillo’s catching up in the opinion surveys. Leader of the Movimento Cinque Stelle (“Five stars Movement”), the humorist and involved blogger is the revelation of the Italian campaign. With about 18% of the vote intentions, the 65-year-old man might create the surprise and make his political movement, the third or even the second political force of Italy within the Chamber of Representatives. Such a political influence would be very strong for this humorist who claims being outside the traditional parties he rejects and criticizes with vehemence. Thus, Beppe Grillo may embody a possible and strong Left opposition to Pierluigi Bersani in the coming weeks and months.

Faced with the coming Grillo’s success, the PD leader tries to give some guarantees to the centre, in particular to Mario Monti, and insists on the humorist’s populist drift. With barely 15% of vote intentions, the outgoing President of Council has few chances to stay in power but may be a precious ally to form and back the future government. For information, the former European Commissioner may run for the presidency of the Senate or become minister of Economy and Finances, in exchange of his alliance with Pierluigi Bersani to allow the latter to govern and continue (at least partially) the economic and social policy initiated by Monti to get the peninsula out of the crisis.

Experiencing a continuing economic crisis and undermined by uncertainty, Italy is looking for a new breath and a new direction. Although it is still the favourite, the PD is clearly aware of the fact that it won’t have any other solutions than pursuing Mario Monti’s strategy, which just begins to bear some fruits according to some experts, despite a recession characterised by a worrying and fast increase of unemployment. Indeed, the election results will be much scrutinised and commented in Italy, of course, but also in the rest of the European Union, because of the Eurozone stability, and the status of Italy as third economy of the area.

Many people wish a victory of Pierluigi Bersani, less by affection and adhesion to his ideas but rather for the sake of seeing Italy to continue its way out crisis strategy. In fact, a thin victory of Silvio Berlusconi or even an excellent result of Beppe Grillo would be synonym of uncertainty, which most national and European executives and leaders want to avoid at any price. In spite of that, and whoever the winner will be, Italy is still looking for itself and knows it will have to make more efforts in the future.

Gilles JOHNSON

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