photo: Reuters Yara Nardi
Italy went to the poles on Sunday the 24th of February to vote and like many other European countries rejected the harsh austerity measure. This has been seen in recent election all across Europe such as France, Netherlands and Greece. Although there seem to be no clear winner, the clear loser was Mario Monti. Monti’s party won only about 10% of the votes. Mr. Monti terrible downfall is not surprising not only because of the harsh anti-austerity sentiment but as well as his choice to run in the election in the first place. He was after all a technocrat interim prime minister who was supposed to step down for the election.
Italy’s will have to try to cobble some sort of working coalition from the three biggest winner from the election which were Bersani centre left, Berlusconi centre right with both about 30% of the votes and Grillo five star party with 25%. The most likely coalition will between Bersani and Berlusconi. There has been some doubt of how easy it will for a coalition to be built.
One of the reason building a strong coalition will be necessary is in 2005 when Berloscuni was still in power, among the many laws passed, such as the law against persecuting the president for fraud, was a change in the way elections were determined. This changed from first past the post (majority vote) to proportional representation. This has significant repercussion as in Italian democracy where both houses are equal (perfect bicameralism) and therefor a majority party has to win both houses. This was introduced before the last election so that Berlusconi could keep himself in power. Its is also interesting to note that the election was called two months early when Berlusconi’s party pulled its support from Monti’s government.
It is a surprised that Berlusconi managed to do as well as he did to many outside of Italy. Where he has been found guilty and sentenced to four year in prison last year (reduced to one year) and most recently to a further year for breach of confidentiality when he released a wiretapped conversation.
Another reason is even though Berlusconi campaign on an anti austerity platform, he was one of many candidates to do so and Bersani seemed like a valid alternative. Although Berlusconi did go further and pledge to not only reduce taxes but reimburse taxes already paid. Perhaps another reason is the fall in voter turn out by 7% to 55%. Many Italian feel delusioned by Italian politics. A clear sign that Italian want to see change in their politics is the rapid rise of the comedienne Beppe Grillo and his Five Star Party. Whether this young, anarchic and inexperienced party will be able to bring any solid and productive fiscal political policy that has positive change in another matter.