Guide To The Elections That Can Elevate The Extreme Right Of Giorgia Meloni In Italy

There are some important “firsts” in this Sunday’s election in Italy. It will be the first time that votes have been held after the reform that has significantly reduced the number of members of Parliament: there will be 400 deputies instead of 630 and 200 senators instead of 315. A radical change that has forced the parties to balance when presenting their lists, when many who had a seat discovered that they were not going to repeat.

The support of the European PP for the alliance with the extreme right in Italy paves the way for Feijóo with Vox

The support of the European PP for the alliance with the extreme right in Italy paves the way for Feijóo with Vox


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It is also the first time that people vote for the Senate from the age of 18 (and not 25, as it was until now). And another first time it can come out of the polls, if the polls are confirmed and there are no changes in alliances or parliamentary arithmetic: Italy could have a woman at the head of the Government who is also the leader of a far-right party, a result that will have impact beyond the country. Although the first game could really be another: the one of abstention.

Some 46 million people are called to the polls, which will open at 7 and close at 11. The results will be known throughout the early hours of Monday.

Who is who?

The (former) centre-right. There is a center-right coalition or rather just plain right, since Forza Italia, the party founded by Silvio Berlusconi, who led it for years, will be, if the forecasts come true, the minority partner. The leader of this bloc is Giorgia Meloni, at the head of the Brothers of Italy, a far-right party that four years ago garnered four percent of the vote. Now the roles have been exchanged and Meloni is running to lead the future Government. The third leg of the coalition is Matteo Salvini’s League, which has seen its leadership decline after it forced the fall of Giuseppe Conte’s government in the summer of 2020. The internal competition between Meloni and Salvini is one of the keys to the future of the alliance and also to the final results for the coalition as a whole, since the Brothers of Italy, the only one of the big parties that did not support the government of national unity led by Mario Draghi, is also fishing in the League voting grounds.

The center left. This bloc is led by the Democratic Party, whose secretary and candidate for prime minister, Enrico Letta, was already in charge of the Government for a few months between 2013 and 2014, when he resigned after a motion of internal party censure promoted by Matteo Renzi, who replaced him. Letta, who returned to Italian politics after a period as director of the School of International Affairs at the University of Political Sciences in Paris, tried to widen the borders of the alliance. The idea was to include the 5 Star Movement (M5S for its acronym in Italian), but it failed when the M5S contributed, together with the League and Forza Italia, to the fall of the Draghi government in July. Another alliance with the centrists of Acción, the party of the former Minister of Economic Development, Carlo Calenda, lasted barely a week. Calenda broke the pact when the PD joined the coalition with two formations to its left, Left Italy and the Greens Green Europe, which are presented with a common list.

Also part of the centre-left coalition are +Europe, veteran politician Emma Bonino and Civic Commitment, the new formation led by the Foreign Minister, Luigi di Maio, after his departure from the M5S, of which he was a founder.

The third way. After the split suffered in June, when Di Maio took more than 60 deputies, it seemed that the M5S was destined for irrelevance, after having been the first party four years ago with more than 33% of the votes. But the now leader of the formation, former Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, who arrived almost by chance at Palazzo Chigi at the hands of Di Maio himself and Salvini, when they allied after the 2018 elections, has managed to revive the bases of the movement founded by the comedian Beppe Grillo, presenting himself as the defender of the most impoverished classes affected by the crises that accumulate in the country. Conte, who found himself managing the country in the first and hardest phase of the Covid-19 pandemic, remains very popular. During the electoral campaign he has claimed the star measure of the M5S, the basic income that more than a million households have received, especially in the south of the country. And there where the ‘grillini’ can now surprise.

The center. The so-called ‘third pole’, the dream of many after the fall of the Christian Democracy in the 90s, is this time represented by the cartel formed by Calenda and Renzi. With a liberal economic and progressive civil rights program, the cartel presents itself as the ‘true’ heir to the so-called ‘Draghi agenda’, which they openly mention as the best candidate to govern Italy.

Others. There are various formations in this group, including the Eurosceptics of Italexit. The formation that deserves a mention here is the Popular Union, led by former prosecutor Luigi de Magistris, which brings together several acronyms on the left and has received the blessing of Jean-Luc Melenchón and Pablo Iglesias who have traveled to Italy to support them during the electoral campaign.

What do the polls say?

The latest polls were published on September 9, since the law prohibits their dissemination in the 15 days prior to the elections. According to the average number of surveys Political, Meloni’s party is in the lead, with around 25%. It is followed by the Democratic Party, which stands at around 22 percent. Until a few weeks ago the two were practically tied.

Another relevant change registered in the trend of the polls has to do with the M5S and the League. The first has recovered in recent weeks. The formation led by Conte, according to the polls, would achieve, with 13% of voting intentions, tie with the League, although there are some polls that speak of sorpasso. Forza Italia would be around eight percent, making it the minority partner of the center-right coalition furthest to the right than ever.

The Calenda-Renzi couple, who have added their electoral acronyms, Acción and Italia Viva, respectively, would not exceed six percent, although the cartel proposes itself as the real alternative to the right and has carried out a very tough electoral campaign against the PD. Whose allies –Italian Left/European Greens and +Europe– are around three percent.

Di Maio’s new creation – not so new because to stand for election without collecting signatures he used the symbol of the former Christian Democrat, Bruno Tabacci – would not reach three percent. There is a big difference between two and three percent in the Italian electoral law.

How does the electoral law work in Italy?

In these elections, the law called Rosatellum will be voted on, after the name of the deputy who was its rapporteur in Parliament, Ettore Rosato. The law provides that a third of the seats in the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies are elected in uninominal colleges – in which whoever arrives first wins – and the remaining two thirds with the proportional system, where the seats are distributed proportionally to the number of votes obtained at the national level. There is a three percent threshold for acronyms filing solo and 10 percent for coalitions.

It is a mixed system, which tends to favor coalitions. If the polls are confirmed, at this time it would benefit the center-right.

And the abstention?

Abstention, although it has remained at lower levels compared to other European countries, has been growing since the 1980s to exceed 27% in 2018. But, according to some surveys, abstentionists may be much higher.

In addition to dynamics similar to other countries – parties perceived as distant and the weariness of part of the population – in recent weeks there has also been talk of “forced abstentionism”, that is, the impossibility of voting for millions of voters who are They are, for reasons of study or work, in another place that is not their habitual residence. These are about five million people, especially young people under 35, who will not be able to vote because solutions such as voting by mail, to which residents abroad are entitled, have not been provided.



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