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Italy: real and lasting change is possible

 

Today the “first comer-but not winner” of the Italian elections, Pier Luigi Bersani will meet the Head of State, Giorgio Napolitano, to receive a full or explorative mandate to create a new government. Bersani’s “mission-almost-impossible” will be to ensure a majority (that can survive a confidence vote) in the Senate (he already has a majority in the Lower House). The options do not seem promising. 

Berlusconi’s PDL has appealed Bersani to go for a “grand coalition” capable of implementing measures considered urgent for the country. However the Democratic Party has repeatedly rejected the offer: its leftish anti-Berlusconi basis would never understand what Italians call the “inciucio” (although it would be interesting to see if it refused working with the PDL as a whole, or just Berlusconi). Without PDL support, Bersani’s option would be Monti, but this is incompatible with

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Rome view: a different Europe?

Despite widespread concern about Italy’s political uncertainty and its way to get out of the gridlock, what emerges from the latest Eurobarometer is that Italians seem to want more Europe. Although confidence in the EU has fallen in most of the polled countries (see this blog post by my colleague José Ignacio Torreblanca), when asked about leaving the Union and the single currency, the answer was mostly “no”. Only one percent of the 10,321 Italians interviewed expect the country to leave the EU, and the euro is considered (although only by 31 percent) the second biggest achievement of the Union after the free movement of people, goods and services. 

Solving the euro crisis continues to be an important issue for many. 59 percent of Italian respondents expect the EU to be involved in finding a solution (ten points above the average, although four below the results of the previous

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Italy’s message for Europe

The significance of Italy’s election result should not be underestimated.  But Italy’s election outcome is far more positive than many realise. The outcome of the Italian elections caused quite a bit of confusion and sometimes rather hysterical reactions from the markets (which is perhaps understandable) and from European partners (which is much less understandable!). As Europe’s third largest economy Italy’s political instability is a European concern. As we all know, Italy is too big to fail - and even if we imagine for one second that such a remote scenario is likely, it should be clear that the effects of such a collapse would hurt almost all Member States and would certainly be a huge disaster for Europe as a whole.

In April Giorgio Napolitano’s term as president of Italy will come to an end. To conclude his seven year mandate his last state visit brought him to Germany. It

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Italy’s election - a quick analysis

Italy has voted – and the results could not be more different from what even the exit polls predicted. Bersani has a very slim majority in the lower house, Berlusconi is still a force in Italian politics, Monti is now irrelevant and Beppe Grillo’s anti- establishment movement got the most votes. And as none of the parties have a majority in the Senate Italy is in crisis.

Grillo’s Five Star Movement (M5S) got most of the attention, but this success has to be understood in the context of a crisis across Italy’s political spectrum - traditional parties in Italy lost around 12million supporters compared to the elections in 2008:

  • Silvio Berlusconi lost 6.297.343 votes (- 46,20%)
  • The Northern League vote was more than halved; losing 1.634.387 votes (- 54%)
  • Bersani and the Democratic Party surprisingly lost 3.452.606 votes (- 28%)
  • The Union of Christian Democrats lost a

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Italy’s European election

Italians will go to the polls on Sunday to vote for a new parliament. But something is different this time: for the first time in an Italian election “Europe” seems to be playing a central role. I was interested in how exactly the main candidates use “Europe” in their campaigns - so here is a quick overview:

The euro crisis is obviously the most cited explanation of why Europe plays such a central role. I argued before that Italy risked becoming a country in receivership. Lucia Annunziata, the Editorial Director of the Huffington Post Italia and former Chair of RAI, had another take on this. He argued that the main reason for the Europe debate in Italy is Mario Monti. Before Monti entered the race, traditional parties had no need to engage in a real debate over Europe. Monti’s somewhat unexpected candidacy however prompted all other candidates to respond to the "man of Europe".

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