Italian election results in hung parliament

Italy is predicted to face a prolonged period of political instability after voters delivered a hung parliament in national elections at the weekend.

Silvio Berlusconi | Photo credit: Press Association

By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

05 Mar 2018

As was widely expected, the country’s voters spurned traditional parties and flocked to anti-establishment and far-right groups in record numbers.

The elections have failed to produce a clear majority in the two chambers of the Italian Parliament.

Though no party will be able to rule alone based on latest results, the surge of support for populist parties has been compared with Brexit and the election of Donald Trump in the US.


Despite securing the largest share of seats, the right-wing coalition - formed by Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, the anti-immigration League, the nationalist Brothers of Italy and the centrist Noi con l’Italia - failed to win a governing majority, in a vote that sees the anti-establishment Five Star Movement emerging as the real winner, with over 30 per cent of votes.

Despite stating the contrary during the run up to the vote, Five Star has now announced it is open for coalition talks with other parties.

Consultations among the different parties will now begin to assess whether a parliamentary majority can be found, in the absence of which new elections will be necessary.

Gianni Pittella, who until recently was the head Parliament’s S&D group, stood in the elections but, with the final results still due in, it appeared he was unsuccessful.

The centre-left coalition headed by Matteo Renzi, Italy’s former Prime Minister did worse than expected, winning 19 per cent of the vote according to early results.

Two prominent politicians, the interior minister, Marco Minniti, and the culture minister, Dario Franceschini, were defeated.

The dismal showing prompted reports that Renzi, who was Prime Minister from February 2014 until December 2016, has stepped down as head of the Democratic party (PD).

Experts said that the eurozone’s third biggest economy could now be plunged into a period of both political and economic uncertainty.

After early results were announced, the euro fell 0.3 per cent and was traded at $1.2282, edging towards its seven-week low of $1.21545, which it touched on Thursday.

With the results suggesting that Italy is in for a protracted period of uncertainty and weeks of tortuous horse-trading between the parties, early reaction to the outcome came from Greens/EFA co-leader Philippe Lamberts, who said, “In a country in which 30 per cent are at risk of poverty or social exclusion and 35 per cent of young people are unemployed, it can be no surprise that so many have turned their back on the political mainstream.”

The Belgian MEP said, “It was always clear that leaving Italy alone to deal with such a disproportionate share of the migration problem was cruel. Now we can see it was also politically short-sighted.

“The EPP needs to seriously consider who it wishes to call friends. This isn’t the first time they have chosen to cosy up to the far right. As was the case in Austria, their alliance with the far-right makes a complete mockery of the values they claim to represent and robs them of any pro-EU credentials.”

The Greens/EFA co-leader, German MEP Ska Keller, added, “Clearly, the European Union is not out of the woods yet. Despite recent victories by pro-EU forces, this result shows there is no room for complacency. The upcoming European elections will be essential in strengthening the European Union as a force for good in citizens’ lives.”


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