We don’t often stray into the international world of campaigns and elections, but because the result of the important Italian election was even more unusual than predicted, we are.
Choosing the membership of the country’s new Parliament will have a great effect upon whether the Italian economy — Europe’s third-largest economic entity — stabilizes, and therefore all of the Eurozone. Certainly this region’s economic status has great effect upon the United States.
The underlying electoral conclusion is uncertain. With former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Freedom Party coalition apparently headed toward controlling a Senate plurality and the center-left coalition of Pier Luigi Bersani’s Democratic Party and current Prime Minister Mario Monti’s small Civic Choice Party claiming the majority in the Chamber of Deputies, the country will likely succumb to political stalemate. Both the CoD and Senate wield equal power.
Perhaps the biggest political story is the performance of comedian-turned-politician Beppe Grillo’s Five Star Movement Party. If the final vote tallies meet expectations, Grillo’s party will be the largest single entity in both houses and of similar size to both coalitions. Because Grillo was convicted of vehicular manslaughter in 1980, he was ineligible to run for Parliament, but he is the face of this insurgent political entity and will wield significant power behind the scenes.
Turnout was below the last election’s (2008) participation rate of 80 percent of the eligible voters. More than 50 million Italians were eligible to vote this year, and it appears over 75 percent participated. The election being held in February instead of the normal spring time, and heavy snow and rain falling throughout the country were factors in pushing the turnout downward.
Much is yet to happen as all sides maneuver for political position. The final resolution is anything but clear.