Thursday, February 28, 2013

Elections 2013


After two days of feeling unwell it's like I woke up from hibernation this morning, and to a very confused Italy. On Monday at 3pm the polls closed, and straight after various percentages from different exit polls and instant polls (the difference being in that the exit polls were conducted outside polling stations, and instant polls on the phone.) Initially all the various polls showed that the centre-left coalition was ahead, which makes sense as after all, who would ever admit that they voted Berlusconi...? Then when the real results started to come in they showed a different picture...

In this year's elections voters could choose from 169 parties. Yes, that's right. 215 originally submitted their logo and list for the election, but many were rejected for having copied logos or for lack of paperwork. But it was three parties - or two coalitions and one party to be precise - who won the large majority of the vote. The centre-left led by the Democratic Party's Bersani, the centre-right (Berlusconi's lot), and ex-comedian turned politician Beppe Grillo's Five Star Movement. Monti and his coalition with Centrist leaders Casini and Fini won only 10% of the vote in both houses, which I found surprising. It's no secret that Monti and his austerity plans haven't been popular in Italy, but to be honest I expected the result to be a bit higher. So with around a third of votes for both houses going to both the centre-left and centre-right coalitions, and around a quarter to Grillo's Movimento Cinque Stelle (Five Star Movement) nobody's reached the number required to have a majority in either of the two chambers of the Italian parlament, the Senato (Senate, the upper house) and Camera dei Deputati (Chamber of Deputies, the lower house). Which leaves Italy in a state of deadlock.

Yes, around 30% of the Italian population voted for the PdL-Lega Nord coalition. The PdL is Berlusconi's party, and the Lega Nord is basically Italian's version of the BNP, but worse. They want to create their own break-off state from Southern Italy, and one of their catchphrase is Roma ladra - thieving Rome. So yes, for us foreigners the Lega aren't nice people, seeing as they'd love to see us all out of their country. And unfortunately for me in the regional elections in Lombardia the Lega won the majority of the votes, which naturally makes me a bit anxious.

Grillo's party was the success story of the elections. He refused to appear on tv, and barred members of his party (nicknamed 'grillini') from making any appearances on any channels. He was scheduled to appear on Sky TG24 a few days before the elections, but at the last minute his appearance was called off. Instead of tv, he has been touring Italy as part of his Tsunami Tour, filling piazzas up and down the country.

So at the moment the situation to me seems to be a typically Italian one, lots of chatter but nothing actually being done. Grillo has refused to form a government with the centre-left, and no party has a majority to rule on their own. There's even been talk of the centre-left joining the centre-right to form a government. That'd be like Labour and the Tories in government together, only in crazy Italian style. Another strong possibility is more elections, possibily in the autumn. And if that's the case, will the result be the same as this time round?

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