Open Europe Blog

Update 18:32: the projections for the Lower House are starting to come in and it’ll be a close one. The first RAI projection has Bersani’s centre-left coalition on 29.1%, Berlusconi’s coalition on 28.6% and Beppe Grillo going even stronger than in the Senate, at 26.3%. Again, the Five Star Movement – the party that has toyed with pretty clear enti-euro rhetoric – is set to become Italy’s largest single political party (don’t say we didn’t warn you). 18 to 24 year olds are allowed to vote in the Lower House elections, whilst 25 is the threshold for the Senate elections, which possibly explains the additional Grillo bounce.

Update 17.50: It’s not looking any better. These elections now look like producing a hung senate (though much can still happen). This projection is from La Repubblica:

If this holds, none of the coalition arrangements discussed before the elections will achieve a majority in the Senate. Under this scenario, Berlusconi’s centre-right coalition would win 123 seats, Bersani’s centre-left coalition 104, Beppe Grillo’s Five-Star Movement 58 and Mario Monti’s pro-reform bloc only 16.

So there are basically three options: A national unity government (if Bersani, Berlusconi and Monti join forces – could be possible if leading to fresh elections soon afterwards), a sensational Bersani / Grillo coalition (unlikely) or re-run election within 2-3 months. If we have re-run elections, there will be a lot of pressure to change the electoral law beforehand to avoid a similar stalemate to that which could occur now. For that, of course, you need a majority in both houses…

As we’ve said repeatedly over the last year: this one will be very complicated and uncertain…

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The first projections are in. And the results are the stuff of nightmares if you sit in Brussels or Berlin.

Now, the thing to remember is that seats in the Senate are allocated on a regional basis so overall support nationwide doesn’t necessarily translate into a corresponding number of seats. But the projections so far show the following:

  • Monti – the darling in Berlin and Brussels – is taking an absolute hammering
  • Under the current projections, Berlusconi could prevent a centre-left majority and there could be a hung Senate.
  • Italians are coming out in droves to vote against austerity, with Beppe Grillo’s pro-euro referendum, sort-of-anti-euro Five Star Movement being the largest individual political party in half of the projections so far, and third with respect to Coalition arrangements (Grillo won’t join any coalition arrangements)

All eyes are now on the region of Lombardy, which, given the huge number of senators it provides, is likely to be crucial to the fate of these elections.

The vote count for the lower house trails the Senate count.

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