Andrea examines the results as Italy moves from Prodi II to Berlusconi III
So Silvio is back. Last week-endâ€™s Italian elections saw Berlusconiâ€™s coalition winning by a convincing margin: 9.3% for the Senate and 9.2% for the Chamber of Deputies. The final result is at the high end of figures showed by polls 2 weeks ago. It also guarantees a comfortable majority for Berlusconi at the Senate. During the pre-election discussions, there was some debate on whether he would get a working majority, or if the electoral system used for the Senate would result in another slim majority.
The result shows that a comfortable working majority has been reached. Berlusconi won all key swing regions: Liguria (with a 1% margin), Abruzzo (2.6% majority), Sardinia (by 2.3%), Calabria (a comfortable 8% lead) and Lazio (a 2.8% majority). Campania was also â€œgainedâ€ by Berlusconi compared to 2006 but the result there was never really in doubt after the rubbish crisis (the lead proved to be a commanding 17.2%).
Veltroni won only in the so called â€œred beltâ€ regions (Emilia Romagna, Tuscany, Umbria and Marche) and in Molise (where victory is pretty pointless anyway as there are just 2 seats to be assigned, one for each coalition) and Basilicata (which has tended to vote centre-left in recent years). In Veltroniâ€™s coalitions, Di Pietro list also had a good showing: 4.4% overall, almost doubling its 2006 performance (2.3%).
Within the Berlusconi coalition, there was a very strong showing from the Northern League. They polled 8.3% at national level (Camera dei Deputati). Looking at the Senate regional figures, they polled 12.3% in Piemonte, 20.7% in Lombardia, 26.1% in Veneto, and 13% in Friuli-Venezia-Giulia.
Looking at other partiesâ€™ results, Casini’s UDC (the remnants of the once dominant Christian Democrats) more or less held up its vote. They polled 5.6% (Camera) compared to 6.8% in 2006. A small decline, but they survived. However at the Senate level they passed the 8% regional threshold only in Sicily.
The same certainly canâ€™t be said for the Rainbow Left, who completely collapsed. In 2006 for the Camera, the 3 parties composing it polled 10.2%: last week they were reduced to 3.1% and thus failed to elect a single MP. Their wipe out was not predicted by opinion polls which, 2 weeks ago, were giving them around 6-7%. Some of their 2006 voters went to fringe hard left parties (Critical Left and Communist Party of Workers polled 1.1%), some abstained and a large part transferred as a sort of â€œuseful voteâ€ to Veltroni.
If some left wing voters tactically voted for Veltroni to try and keep Berlusconi out, considering the defeat margin is 9%, it may mean that Veltroni had trouble into eating the â€œmiddle groundâ€ vote. It would be interesting to analyze it through some polls in the coming days (if you can trust Italian opinion polls!).
So whatâ€™s next? Berlusconi has a working majority and should finish this Parliamentary term (but weâ€™re in Italy and you never knowâ€¦). The coalition should be more compact (no UDC this time) and so there should be fewer excuses for not making the reforms always called for but not always done. On the other side of the political spectrum, Veltroni’s PD should try and stabilize as the only centre-left alternative. The reduction of parties elected to Parliament can be used as an attempt to go towards a less complex and â€œslimmerâ€ political scene. Will it be successful or will the colourful variegated Italian political life emerge again?
Andrea is a regular contributor to pb.com and is widely regarded as one of the site’s most knowledgable posters.
Note from Double Carpet: Andrea, Molto Grazie for the first guest article on the new Sunday evening international slot.
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