In December 2012, Silvio Berlusconi withdrew his support to the technical government and Mario Monti decided to resign. Consequently, the President of the Republic dissolved the Parliament on the 22nd of December and paved the way for new elections, the 24th and 25th of February. The political context in which these elections will be taking place is significantly different from the political situation in 2008, when the last general election was held. Indeed, since the beginning of Monti’s tenure, new political forces have emerged, while some of Italy’s main parties have been undergoing significant changes. What follows is a quick description of each of them, starting from the right of the political spectrum.
Lega Nord: Italy’s secessionist and xenophobic party polled 8.3% in the 2008 elections. For three years it has been the main ally of Berlusconi, holding the ministry of the interiors and other key positions in the government. The bizarre handling of the party’s funds resulted in many scandals, including shady investments in Tanzania and the purchase of a degree in Albania for the party leader’s son. Very recently, Lega Nord has concluded an electoral alliance with Berlusconi, at the condition that he doesn’t become the country’s next Prime Minister.
PDL: Until now, Berlusconi’s creature has been the main political force in Parliament, but it has been undergoing a protracted period of crisis. The announcement that Berlusconi would oppose the technical government, run for the elections and bring “new faces” into politics, has thrown the party in a state of confusion. There are those who are sympathetic to Monti’s political program and are hoping to pass to its new political formation, while others have created their own political formation, called Brothers of Italy. There are, finally, the so-called peones, those MPs who are not likely to be re-elected in the Parliament and are looking for a way to ensure their political survival. In seeking an alliance with Lega Nord, Berlusconi has accepted that, in case of victory, he will not be the next Prime Minister. Berlusconi’s coalition can hope to attract the 26% of votes.
With Monti for Italy: With Monti for Italy is a brand new political force launched by Mario Monti, who, despite his many promises to not run as a Prime Minister, has decided to descend into politics. In doing so, he has received the endorsement of the Church. With Monti for Italy is a centrist coalition uniting Mario Monti’s own civic list, the Christian Democrat Union of Center, headed by Pierferdinando Casini, and the conservative Futuro e Libertà, headed by Gianfranco Casini. It proposes itself as an alternative to those conservative electors who want a more sober and respectable alternative to Berlusconi. It is credited with the 14% of votes.
PD: The Democratic Party, headed by Pierluigi Bersani, is currently the biggest political party and the most likely to win the elections. It has just held primary elections, which may have spelled the defeat of many members of the party nomenklatura. Luckily, the existence of a separate list of candidates approved by Bersani has exempted many party cadres from this annoying procedure. The PD’s agenda is one of reform: in an interview with the Washington Post, Bersani argues that Monti’s reforms have to be made stable by combining them with intelligent growth policies. The PD, with its coalition partners, has pledged to improve the civil rights of the LGBT community and migrants. The PD runs together with Left, Ecology and Freedom (SEL) and the Socialist Party in a coalition called “Italy Common Good”. This coalition currently attracts the 37.8% of votes.
Civic Revolution: Civil Revolution (Rivoluzione Civica) is a brand new party based on the confluence of new political movements, small political parties and emerging political leaders. Headed by Antonio Ingroia, a former anti-mafia magistrate, it unites the Greens, the Communists and the Italy of Values parties. The strong points of its agenda are the emphasis on legality and the improvement of civil rights for the LGBT community and migrants. Its weak point is the presence of the Italy of Values, a party which has recently been at the center of many scandals. It is credited with 4.5% of the votes.
Five Stars Movement: Beppe Grillo’s anti-establishment movement has attracted many of those who have been hit by the last government’s austerity policies and has quickly become one of Italy’s main political parties. The Five Stars Movement is populist, ecologist, anti-euro and advocates direct democracy through the web. For example, its candidates have been chosen by the movement through an internet primary held between the 3rd and the 6th of December. The weak point of this movement is the lack of internal democracy, showed by the expulsion of two leading members of the movement. The Five Stars Movement is credited with the 14.5% of votes.
Il Fatto Quotidiano, 15/01/2013. Elezioni, da Cosentino a Crisafulli: quando l’impresentabile è indispensabile. Available at: http://www.ilfattoquotidiano.it/2013/01/14/elezioni-da-cosentino-a-crisafulli-quando-limpresentabile-e-indispensabile/468874/
Repubblica, 14/01/2013. Ingroia: “Nessun patto di desistenza col Pd, Monti vuole togliere le tasse che ha messo”. Available at:: http://www.repubblica.it/politica/2013/01/14/news/bersani_al_washington_post_con_monti_niente_favori_ma_patto_per_le_riforme-50515866/
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The Washington Post, 13/01/2013.Interview: Pier Luigi Bersani, front-runner to become Italy’s next prime minister. Available at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/interview-pier-luigi-bersani-front-runner-to-become-italys-next-prime-minister/2013/01/12/8cced6ac-5b55-11e2-b8b2-0d18a64c8dfa_story.html
Susanna Turco, 2013. Liste, Il Catalogo è Questo. L’Espresso, 04/01/2013. Available at: http://espresso.repubblica.it/dettaglio/liste-il-catalogo-e-questo/2197555/24