Italy 2018: General Elections

Italy is voting for the next Prime Minister as per the new law namely, Rosatellum bis. It acts as a mixed system of parallel voting. The election has gained great hype and is seen as a litmus test for Europe due to rising right-wing populism and the growing migration woes and worries. The continent is ripe with anger due to the spread of economic stagnation and the electoral gains of right-wing parties. The politicians in lead are stressing on the burning issue of refugees and migrants. It is estimated that nearly 1,20, 000 refugees have already arrived on Italian soils. It is reported that nearly 30 percent voters are not sure about their choice in the wake of media blackout on polling.

The major parties which are rallying against the immigration are Five Star Movement, The Northern League, the CasaPound and neo-fascist Forza Nuova. However, as per the recent surveys and pre-election exit polls ironically none of the leading parties got the desired figure of 40 percent support which is necessary for forming the government. If this materialises the President will have to work out a cross-party coalition to form the government failing which Italy will go to polls again.

The Berlusconi angle

Silvio Berlusconi is himself barred from running for any post in the elections due to a conviction in 2013 tax fraud case, he has been the longest-serving Prime Minister of the country since the end of WWII. His party Forza Italia has entered into a deal with The League and other small right-wing parties. The coalition is headed by Matteo Salvini and is said to be polling at 36 percent. Salvini has presented a tough stance in his campaign towards the migrants and refugees and has committed to deporting half a million of them. He is also not favourable about the Italian membership of European Union but has stated that he will not announce any referendum for the same during his tenure.

The Centre-Left

The coalition of Centre-Left Parties is commanding only 23 percent votes. It is governed by the Democratic Party.  The coalition had lost much of its support under the leadership of former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. Currently, Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni is the most popular politician in the polls. He has the approval rating of 47 percent. He is a PD member. PD had lost support lately under Renzi primarily due to the failed referendum for constitutional reform in 2016. In addition, the party lacks a clear message and vision which has led to the current loss of public backing.

The Five Star Movement

The party which was once mocked by a comedian as an anti-establishment, Eurosceptic and pro-environment has emerged as the most popular individual party before elections. The party has now emerged as a populist radical right party despite its other stances. It is led by Luigi di Maio. In the European Parliament, the M5S is a member of Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy- a group whose members include UK Independence Party, Sweden Democrats etc. It is said that the party has many positions balanced between the left and the right with stress on issues like environment and access to the internet. The party has repeatedly stated its anti-Euro stance but its leader has contrastingly quoted its preference to remain the Euro block as of now.



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