On 24 and 25 February 2013, Italy will choose its new Parliament. The latest polls indicate the center-left coalition is ahead, led by Democratic Party leader Pierluigi Bersani (currently polling at between 33.2% and 37.2%). However, the center-left support seems on a downward trajectory, in contrast to that of the center-right coalition, led by former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi who is still polling in second place (currently between 27.9% – 32%) but whose support seems to be on an upward path. The “5 Stars Movement” – a new political movement founded online by popular Italian comedian and blogger Beppe Grillo – follows in third place (currently polling between 14% – 18% of the vote) and then the Centre Coalition, led by the outgoing prime minister and former EU commissioner Mario Monti (currently polling between 12.9% – 15.3%). While the Democratic Party seems to be advancing towards a relatively comfortable win in the Chamber of Deputies, it is the battle for the majority in the Senate which will be decisive. Based on the latest polls, the Centre Coalition seats in the Senate could be essential for the Democratic Party to be able to form a government with a majority in both branches of the Parliament.
After a year of austerity, the election campaign in Italy has been largely focused on taxation and measures to improve growth, with the various coalitions also putting forward their positions on key topics, such as public finance, relations with the EU, measures to encourage industry, foster the digital agenda, and shape energy and environmental policy. Moreover, the electoral campaign has been enlivened by a financial scandal involving Monte dei Paschi di Siena (MPS), the oldest Italian banking institutions and Finmeccanica, a leading government owned company in the defense industry.
International observers have expressed concerns that the next government may not continue the path of reform towards a more prosperous Italy, obviously beginning with a better institutional control of public debt in accordance with EU guidelines. Statements from foreign leaders and EU institutions have carried special weight in these elections and certainly appear to have influenced Italian public opinion. It would appear that foreign investors are more concerned at the possibility of a win by former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi and his center-right coalition.
The decisive battle in the Senate will be played out especially in three swing regions (Lombardy, Campania and Sicily). Predictions are always dangerous, but in our view the most likely alliance will result from an agreement between the center-left and Monti’s coalition, making it possible to achieve a majority in the Senate. If none of the coalitions reach a sufficient majority, the possibility of a short term government and a subsequent election within the next two years cannot be excluded.
Click here to read more analysis of these elections from APCO’s Rome office.
- APCO’s Rome Team