Martedì, 23 Ottobre 2018

Italians sick of 'politics as usual' facing deadlock


Rome, February 26 - Italy faces the risk of being
mired in political gridlock after Sunday and Monday's general
election failed to produce a clear winner.
Pier Luigi Bersani's centre left won outright control of
the House, even though it only had 124,407 votes more (0.36%)
than Silvio Berlusconi's centre right, thanks to the allocation
of bonus seats that goes to the winning alliance.
But it had only 119 seats in the Senate, with a handful of
seats still to be assigned on Tuesday, compared to 117 for the
centre right.
Both blocs were distant from the magic number of 158 needed
to have a working majority in the upper house, in part because
comedian Beppe Grillo's anti-establishment Five Star Movement
(M5S) sent shock waves through the system by making huge gains.
To add to the confusion, Berlusconi's People of Freedom
(PdL) party called for the seats in the House not to be
allocated until the results had been checked because the
difference between the centre left and centre right was "too
close to call".
Both the centre left and the centre right said they were
not in favour of returning to the polls in the near future in
order to get a clear winner. Berlusconi was open to the
hypothesis of working with Bersani - which Bersani later
rejected - but he ruled out striking a deal with the reform
ticket of outgoing Premier Mario Monti.
"I don't think it's useful in this situation (to vote
again)," Berlusconi told one of his Mediaset TV channels. "Now
we have to reflect for the good of Italy. Someone is going to
have to do with making some sacrifices, but Italy deserves to be
Although Berlusconi did not have enough seats to form a
government for the fourth time, his supporters have heralded the
result, as his coalition was trailing by double figures in the
polls at the start of the campaign. The centre left, which had
been leading in the the polls throughout the campaign, was
stunned by the outcome.
Center-left leader Bersani said the results showed Italians
had rejected "politics as usual" and had refused to accept
"inefficient institutions and politics that seem to have lost
moral credibility".
His assessment came at a press conference where he conceded
that his coalition did not win the general election despite
topping the popular vote in both houses.
The centre left won 340 seats on the House with 29.54% of
the vote there, while the centre right took 124, despite being
just behind with 29.18% of the votes.
The only real victors were the M5S, which claimed 25.55% of
the votes for the House, more than any other individual party,
and winning 108 seats.
Grillo's Internet-based movement, which won 54 seats in the
Senate, tapped into public disenchantment with the established
parties caused in part by a series of corruption scandals and by
the political class's failure to address the country's economic
"We have become the biggest party in three years (since the
movement was founded) without (public) money, without ever
having accepted a single (electoral expense) reimbursement,"
Grillo said via Twitter on Tuesday.
Monti, who took the helm of an emergency technocrat
government after Berlusconi was forced to resign in November
2011 because Italy's debt crisis was threatening to spiral out
of control, registered only 10.56% of the vote in the House.
This won his alliance 45 seats there. It took 9.13% in the
Senate, only just above the 8%-entry threshold, winning 18
Nevertheless, he said he was happy.
"Some people hypothesized a result that was slightly
better, but I am very satisfied," said former European
commissioner, who stressed that his Civic Choice movement was
established less than two months ago.
He added that his party's share of the vote was all the
more important as the election produced an inconclusive result.
Meanwhile international leaders, who are anxious to see how
the fallout of the elections in the eurozone's third-largest
economy will impact the global economic crisis, expressed their
faith in the Italian political system.
EU Commissioner for Economic Affairs Olli Rehn expressed
his confidence in the capacity of President Giorgio Napolitano
to find a solution to the uncertainty of no clear parliamentary
"Italians have made their democratic choice, now there is a
complex scenario but we have faith in the institutions and in
the ability of President Napolitano to find a rapid solution
that might enable Italy to tackle the challenges ahead," he
"The (EU) Commission will work in close collaboration with
the country to support it in this challenge".
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said "Italy will find its
way" out of its election impasse.
She added that the election did not voice widespread voter
anger against EU-dictated austerity policies applied by outgoing
Premier Monti.
"A reasonable savings policy is the prerequisite for
growth," she said.
But Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the Lib Dem group in the
European parliament, was less certain.
"The European Union also has its share of responsibility
because it failed to answer Mario Monti's repeated calls for
help in lowering interest rates on public debt," he said.
Useful responses might have been the creation of a
redemption fund or the partial sharing of the debt across the
eurozone, the former Belgian premier said.
"Instead the only thing Monti got from his colleagues was a
pat on the back".
Verhofstadt added that European leaders needed to "learn
the lesson" resulting from the Italian elections, referring to
gains by populist forces led by Berlusconi and Grillo, who
together won more than half of the popular vote.
"Fiscal discipline is absolutely necessary, but by itself
it is not sufficient to combat the crisis," he said. "The
incorporation of austerity measures with solidarity and policies
for growth is not a choice but a duty".
On Tuesday the spread between Italian 10-year bonds and
the benchmark German bund - a key indicator of investor
confidence in Italy's ability to weather the euro crisis -
jumped more than 50 points on renewed debt worries.

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