Italy Dumps the Establishment

As Germany seems to get out of Italian conditions (with the SPD membership approving the GrosseKoalition), Italy seems to slide into German conditions — no party or coalition appears to be possible, while the establishment parties took a beating.

The Five Stars movement achieved a result beyond expectations, with 32.9 percent in the Chamber of Deputies and 31.97 percent in the Senate with about 90% of the vote counted. The Democratic Party is still the second largest party but collapsed to a historical low of 18.94 percent in the House and 19.29 percent in the Senate. The third largest party is the Lega, with 17.77 and 17.94 the largest growth among all parties. Berlusconi’s Forza Italia is coming fourth with 13.92 and 14.40. This is a bitter defeat for the Cavaliere (Berlusconi).

In terms of coalitions, the center-right (FI and Lega) is coming first with 37 and 37.46 percent. The M5S ran alone but nevertheless is coming second, with the center-left coming third with 23.16 and 23.22. The center-right won in northern and central Italy; the M5S won big in southern Italy.

The big losers: Matteo Renzi and Silvio Berlusconi. The winners: Luigi di Maio (M5S) and Matteo Salvini (Lega). The systemic parties lost and the anti-system parties won, in the establishment jargon. Inside and outside of Italy, this is also perceived as a victory of the populists or euroskeptics, although such a definition does not really fit for the M5S, at least not exactly.

Expect the usual suspects to claim that Putin has manipulated another vote.

The M5S now claims a government mandate, as, per tradition, this is given to the party that won the elections. But the Constitution gives the State President some leverage. He will give a mandate to the candidate who, in his view, after consulting all parties, has the best chance. Since no party or electoral coalition has reached the 40% threshold that gives a majority bonus, the following scenarios are theoretically possible:

-A M5S-Lega government
-A M5S-PD government
-A center-right/M5S government
-Early elections

The third one is the least probable. Brussels and Frankfurt are pressing for the second option, which would guarantee a pro-EU government. The M5S is reportedly split between the pro-EU Casaleggio faction and others who want an alliance with the Lega. However, for the latter to be born, several apparently irreconcilable positions must be overcome. In fact, although they agree on bank separation, the Lega is for hard investments (infrastructure) whereas the M5S is Malthusian and has campaigned against all large projects, including the Turin-Lyon and the Messina Bridge.

Things will grow more clear on March 23, when Parliament gathers and the chairmen of the two branches will be elected. This will show what the alliances are.

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