Italy’s Elections – The Fallout

Stephanie Surface analyses the Italian election result and European reaction to it

This week’s European reactions after the chaotic results in the Italian election seemed to be bizarre, if not downright silly.

German socialist Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament, commented: “We need a stable government in one of the most important countries of the Eurozone”. The Finnish Ollie Rehn, Commissioner for European Economic and Monetary Affairs, agreed with Belgian Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council: ”There is no alternative to the course of reforms! ” . And maybe the most laughable comment came from the German Economics minister Philipp Roesler as he appealed to the Italians to [oh pur-lease!] have “political common sense”.

Like in a British pantomime, the resounding answer by the Italian voters was: Oh no, we won’t! On stage we find Beppo Grillo, an ItalianGrillo05EPAMascoloHigh comedian, Silvio Berlusconi, a sort of comedian, and Pier Luigi Bersani, an ex-communist, now leader of a centre-left alliance. Slightly off stage is Mario Monti, former technocratic Prime Minister of Italy, imposed by the European Commission to execute their orders, putting on a brave face after getting hardly 10% and saying in interviews that he is actually quite satisfied with his result.

What will happen in Italy?

Beppe Grillo and his Five Star Movement gained most votes as a single party with 25%. Will he build a coalition with any other party? I doubt it, as he stood against all the established Italian parties and already in 2007 brought thousands on to the streets for his “Kiss my Ass” day.

Berlusconi’s alliance will be unpredictable, as he is the master player of Italian politics. Many elderly, poor people and tradesmen, who didn’t do well under Monti, voted for him and expect a miracle of lower taxes and higher wages.

berlusconiBersani with his left alliance just got 0.4% percent more than Berlusconi, but will lead the majority in the lower house because of the Italian electoral law which grants the biggest party most seats (340 out of 617). But in the upper house, the Senate, Bersani won’t have a majority, even if he joins forces with Monti, as Berlusconi and Grillo can block any law which will be initiated by a Bersani/Monti government.

The Italian President ,who will resign in April, does not have the power to call for new elections in his last months in office, and after that all parties have to agree to elect a new President. In short Italy now reached stalemate and becomes ungovernable.

What will happen to the future of the Euro-project? It will be anybody’s guess. It looks pretty bleak, as the Eurocrats in Brussels are stunned and the SPD in Germany already blames Merkel for the disaster, trying to score points for the upcoming September election.

The biggest problem for the Euro enthusiasts will be that other countries might catch on and elect unestablished parties, resisting the Euro diktat. After the Italian election results were announced yesterday, a German friend tweeted: “It seems that Italian voters rejected the Euro-Gauleiter Monti”: many Eurosceptics will happily agree with that statement.

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