Italian Elections: What next ?

One of the great protagonists of the upcoming elections is not a political party, but rather a law, the law no.270 of 21/12/2005. This law, conceived during the tenure of Berlusconi, has been called “crap” by its creator, the then minister of reforms Roberto Calderoli. It was nicknamed “porcellum” by the reputed scholar Giovanni Sartori and the Italian citizens have tried to change it many times during the last years. While, throughout the tenure of Monti’s government, the main political parties have vowed to change it – They have not. This law, the Porcellum, regulates Italy’s electoral system and is very problematic, for many reasons, the main being that it features “blocked lists” which are made by the leaderships of parties and that the electors vote on, without having any possibility to express personal preferences. Hence, who gets elected depends not on the preferences expressed by the voters, but from the decisions made by party cadres. The Porcellum is a proportional system, which, even while giving a “prize of majority” to the electoral winner, tends to create very weak majorities. This is made worse by the fact that the previous system based on the bipartisanism between Berlusconi and the PD is over and that many new political forces are likely to send representatives in the Parliament.

The M5S (the 5 Stars Movement), Civic Revolution and Monti’s coalition are new forces which will control a large share of the votes. At the same time, Berlusconi and the Lega Nord are capable of controlling a sizable share of the national vote. All of this is very bad news for the PD, the party which is closest to forming a majority. The PD is very likely to obtain a majority in the Chamber of Deputies, but less likely to do so in the Senate. Thus, the PD is likely to control only one of the two Chambers, particularly if its vote is eroded by other “leftist” political forces. Consequently, if it wants to govern, the PD will have to form a coalition government with some of the other forces which will have made it to the Parliament. The most likely candidate for the position of partner in such a coalition, is Mario Monti and his partners, Pierferdinando Casini and Gianfranco Fini. Indeed, a coalition government with Berlusconi would be inconceivable, as much as would be any alliance with the intransigent M5S. Another possible partner is Civic Revolution, but it claims to be incompatible with Mario Monti and doesn’t control enough votes to be an attractive alternative to a coalition with the center. Not surprisingly, the figures at the head of the PD, such as the former Prime Minister Massimo D’Alema, have already expressed their preference toward a partnership with Mario Monti, in order to accomplish the necessary “reforms”.

The positions taken by Monti and his christian-democrat allies are quite clear. They are favorable to the continuation of the previous government’s policies (such as the insertion of a balanced budget amendment in the constitution), have espoused a discourse based on legality and rigor but are unlikely to touch upon the issues that raise conflicts of interest and are against the discussion of the topic of civil rights of immigrants and the gay community. As a coalition partner, Monti would be in a good position to impose his views on a more or less recalcitrant PD. A Bersani-Monti government would then bring little change to the way in which some of the country’s problems have been left untouched. What is also sure is that these elections will confirm to us that Mario Monti is here to stay.

BY: Alberto Pecoraro


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