The Many Unknowns Heading Into Italy’s Perilous Elections

The Many Unknowns Heading Into Italy’s Perilous Elections
Italian former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, backdropped by Euro banknotes, gestures during the recording of a talk show on Italian state television, Rome, Jan. 11, 2018 (AP photo by Andrew Medichini).

Italians go to the polls this Sunday in a climate of uncertainty, amid fears, not unfounded, that their country’s political stability is at stake.

Three main political forces are contending for power: On the right, a shaky alliance of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia and two far-right parties, the League and the Brothers of Italy; the maverick and populist Five Star Movement; and the governing, center-left Democratic Party. They are polling roughly in that order, followed by Free and Equal, a left-wing coalition of disgruntled Democratic Party veterans who broke away in 2017. But 30 percent of the electorate is still undecided. Many frustrated, disillusioned voters simply won’t go to the polls.

The uncertainty is compounded by the electoral system. Italy will vote under a new law that assigns two-thirds of the seats in both chambers of parliament by proportional representation and one-third of the seats through single-member constituencies. This partial return to a first-past-the-post system should favor the right in the north and parts of the south. As a result, the League, which has secured many candidates in its northern stronghold, will likely win a disproportionately high number of seats. What nobody knows is how much tactical voting will influence the outcome in the constituencies in central or southern Italy. Many voters will vote against parties they particularly dislike, rather than for a party they prefer, but nobody knows how widespread this will be.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.