Italian elections, a punishment against the political class

Italian elections, a punishment against the political class

This article has been written for Albanian Free Press newspaper and www.afp.al

By Plator Nesturi

Sunday’s polls in Italy yielded an unexpected result which seems to reflect what’s happening today in today’s Europe. We had a vote of protest against anyone who governs and governed Italy all these years. The old political establishment has been strongly hit and we now have a new reality of the configuration of political forces. The biggest triumphant is M5S, the Five Star Movement chaired by the 31 year old Di Maio, which achieved a spectacular result of 32.5%. Running in these elections on its own, at a time when everything started as a protest several years ago, this political force is the most voted force among Italians. Meanwhile, the right wing coalition is the winning coalition with 37% of the votes, approaching the threshold needed to create a governing majority, thanks to the bonus provided by the new electoral law to reach the 40% threshold. But even within the right wing camp, where Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia has dominated, there have been sudden changes. The leadership of the right wing is transferred from Berlusconi to his ally of Lega Nord, Salvini, who has managed to win 17% as opposed to 14% won byForza Italia. This way, being the party with most votes, it’s up to Salvini to be mandated as Prime Minister in order to hold talks with other parties and form the government.

The biggest loser is Renzi and his party, PD, which, after being in power for five years, goes down to 19% of votes, while the left wing coalition wins 22% of the votes. This is a big fall for PD, which has not only lost votes, but it has also seen a drop of electoral colleges, as it only manages to win in its stronghold, Tuscany. Meanwhile, Renzi announced his resignation from the PD and it’s hard to tell how this party will be lead and how it will engage in talks for a potential majority, however complicated this is. Now, the country’s president, Matarella, needs to mandate the person who will engage in the talks for the creation of the majority, Salvini, as head of the winning coalition, or Di Maio, as chairman of 5 Stars, the most voted party. Italy remains divided in three and this result and the strong declarations made during the campaign, seem to make the creation of a majority, impossible. Therefore, in case of failure, the country may face fresh elections in two or three months. But, will this bring a new result, or will this further dissolution of the DP bring a more impressive victory for 5 Stars?

But what has truly happened in reality to enable what Di Maio of the 5 Star Movement considered to be the start of the Third Republic, which will be the Republic of the Citizens?  The two winning parties, 5 Stars and Lega Nord, were both considered as anti-establishment and anti-European parties. Although Brussels had raised the alarm about the threat of anti-Europeans, the opposite has happened. Beyond any forecast or opinion polls, these parties managed to collect more votes, which, in itself shows not only a punishment for present and previous governance, but also shows discontent with Brussels’ policies regarding problems with the waves of refugees and economic policies, from which Italy and its citizens seem to have suffered. This was so obvious that even Berlusconi’s maneuver to show his loyalty toward Europe and by meeting chancellor Merkel before the elections, seems to have penalized his party within the right wing coalition, ranking it after Lega Nord. Thus, whatever tomorrow’s majority will be, whatever the name will lead the new government, tomorrow’s Italy will show a new face, in terms of social policies within the country and in terms of the relations with the EU. This pressure doesn’t only come from common people, who have suffered the small economic growth rates of the recent years, and not only from youngsters who trusted populists because they are unable to find jobs in their country. This pressure comes from all sides, especially from the business sector, which needs a stronger government to protect, first of all the interests of the Italian economy in an international aspect, and not accept every condition being imposed by the EU. Based on all forecasts, we will have an Italy which will uphold its interests in the years to come and this is causing a lot of concern in Brussels. The pressure coming from the so called populism, left or right, is being felt significantly in the continent and this expresses a general discontent not only for the policies that have been undertaken and the way the benefits of the EU family are divided, but also for the corruption and the high costs of the Brussels’ bureaucracy.  This pressure seems to make a further enlargement policy toward Western Balkans more difficult and this affects us in terms of our European integration and would further delay our accession in the European family.

Note: The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Albanian Free Press’ editorial policy