Open Europe Blog

So we now have a pretty good idea of the election results in Italy. And there are two victims: eurozone stability and Mario Monti.

The winner: comedian-cum-politician Beppe Grillo. 

We knew from earlier today that there would be a hung Senate, meaning massive challenges ahead in forming a functioning government.

But what about the Lower House – Camera dei Deputati? Well, counting is almost completed so these projections of how seats will be allocated (courtesy of Rai) will most likely be very close to the final results. Bersani’s centre-left coalition managed to secure a majority. The gap between Bersani’s centre-left coalition and Berlusconi’s centre-right coalition is around 0.4%, so the huge difference in seats is due to Italy’s electoral system (which gives the coalition or party with the most votes an automatic majority of almost 54%). 

But this is the shocker: Beppe Grillo’s Five-Star Movement – the party that came out of nowhere and whose leader wants to hold a referendum on both euro membership and the restructuring of the country’s debt – looks set to become the largest party in the lower house, and the second-largest one in the Senate. This is exceeding all expectations (though we warned you!).

Grillo is going to win 110 seats, more than double those of  Mario Monti – the outgoing technocrat PM who was the clear favourite in Berlin and Brussels. Monti will only have 46 MPs at his disposal.

The scale of this defeat was pretty obvious at the press conference that Monti gave earlier today, in which he said he was “very satisfied” with the election results but was visibly emotional.

In contrast, a relaxed but triumphant Grillo chucked about “having another hot tea and then going to bed” when interviewed by ‘La Cosa’ – the Five Star Movement’s official radio/TV station.

That so many Italians voted for anti-austerity parties also bodes ill for the ability of the eurozone to press ahead with its cash-for-discipline recipe. We will provide a more detailed analysis once the final results are in. But for now at least, there’s no doubt about who’s having the last laugh…

N.B.: The breakdown above does not include the 12 MPs elected by Italians residing abroad and the MP elected in the Valle d’Aosta region, who are subject to different rules – a small caveat which does not change the bigger picture.

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