Europe's Next Pivotal Election

Lo scorso 28 dicembre il Presidente della Repubblica, Sergio Mattarella, dopo una consultazione con i Presidenti dei due rami del Parlamento, ai sensi dell’articolo 88 della Costituzione, ha firmato il decreto di scioglimento del Senato della Repubblica e della Camera dei Deputati. Nella giornata del prossimo 4 marzo 2018 si terranno, quindi, le elezioni per il rinnovo del Parlamento, formato dalla Camera dei deputati e dal Senato della Repubblica. In queste elezioni politiche (le prime dal 2013), i cittadini italiani saranno chiamati ad esprimersi con le modalità previste dal nuovo sistema elettorale approvato con la Legge n. 165 del 3 novembre 2017 (denominato Rosatellum). Le norme approvate dal Parlamento prevedono l’elezione dei membri di Camera e Senato per due terzi dei seggi con un metodo proporzionale e collegi plurinominali e per un altro terzo attraverso un metodo maggioritario e collegi uninominali. Per quanto riguarda la Camera dei deputati è prevista l’elezione di 232 onorevoli in collegi uninominali con sistema maggioritario, di 386 deputati in piccoli collegi plurinominali con sistema proporzionale e di altri 12 nella circoscrizione Estero, sempre con ripartizione proporzionale dei seggi. Per il Senato della Repubblica, invece, è prevista l’elezione di 109 senatori in collegi uninominali maggioritari, 200 in collegi plurinominali proporzionali e altri 6 nella circoscrizione Estero, anche qui con metodo proporzionale. Nei collegi uninominali, quelli in cui vale il metodo maggioritario, viene eletto in Parlamento il candidato che ottiene un solo voto in più degli altri. Nei collegi plurinominali i seggi vengono attribuiti proporzionalmente ai voti ottenuti.

The countdown to Europe’s next pivotal election began on Dec. 28, when Italian President Sergio Mattarella officially dissolved the Italian Parliament. This move opened the campaign for the first national election since 2013. Italy’s general election will be held on March 4, 2018. The ruling centre-left Democratic Party faces a strong challenge from anti-establishment Five Star (M5S) and right-wing Forza Italia, who both want tough measures to curb immigration. The influx of migrants continues to be a major concern for the Italian government. The dissolution of Parliament killed off a tabled bill that would have given citizenship automatically to children born in Italy to immigrants. The governing democratic party, currently ruled by Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, had tried to naturalize an estimated 800,000 children who were either born in Italy to foreign parents or who had arrived at a young age. Foreigners born in Italy can currently apply for citizenship only when they turn 18 and if they have lived in the country since birth. Mr. Gentiloni was forced to put his sought-after citizenship changes aside until 2018 because he was unable to secure enough senators to push through his laws. Many lawmakers feared a political blowback if they approved a bill that was not endorsed by M5S and largely opposed by right-wing parties. However, the national election takes the bill off the table, for now.

Much has changed in the politics of Italy, and of Europe. From Eastern Europe to Germany, France and Italy, the continuing collapse of traditional center-left parties and the deepening progress of populist and far-right parties persists. With the vote quickly approaching, both M5S and the far-right League party have been steadily gaining in the opinion polls (as reported in early 2018). This new voting system encourages the established parties to build alliances, something M5S refuses to do which could hinder their chances of gaining power in the country. However, M5S could shape much of the campaign debate and help push other candidates to the right. According to opinion polls, four major groupings are competing in the upcoming national election: a centre-left coalition, composed of the Democratic party and minor allies and led by current PM Gentiloni; a centre-right coalition composed of Forza Italia (headed by Silvio Berlusconi), the Northern League (headed by Matteo Salvini), Brothers of Italy, and minor allies; M5S, who has already chosen its candidate for Prime Minister – Luigi Di Maio, a 31-year-old who has served as vice president of Italy’s lower house of Parliament; and a new left-wing joint list named Free and Equal. So, who is most likely to rule next? It’s anybody’s guess, at this point. If M5S prevails, Di Maio could be given the mandate to establish a new government, but without allies, this is a tough feat. Berlusconi is banned to serve as prime minister again after a 2013 tax-fraud conviction so a potential deal with Salvini and his League could take place, but may be far-fetched. A “grand coalition” scenario has been reported by Bloomberg; one where the Democratic Party and Berlusconi’s Forza Italia unite. But, the leader of this scenario is unknown. Ex-premier Matteo Renzi, who resigned after the rejection of his constitutional reform in 2016, is trying to smooth relations with the center-left party so his hat has been thrown in the ring. Although polls have shown that Mr. Gentiloni is Italy’s most popular politician, he is unlikely to be a candidate for prime minister in the next elections, lacking charisma and edge like other politicians. But, if the elections produce a hung Parliament and no clear majority, the president could ask Mr. Gentiloni to stay on. Currently, opinion polls suggest no one will win a parliamentary majority.

The volatile political landscape of Italy, the euro-zone’s third largest economy, is being watched closely by all of Europe as markets are concerned about the country’s debt, its stance on the euro and the country’s overall banking system.
This information is still evolving at time of publication.