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Parliamentary elections were held in Italy on the 24th and 25th of February 2013. The elections produced political deadlock, with none of the major parties able to form a coalition. This page collates EUROPP’s coverage of the elections both before and after the country went to the polls.

April 2013

Italian journalism is the real loser from Italy’s elections

Jacopo Genovese assesses the role of the Italian media in the election campaign, noting that they failed to anticipate one of the key stories of the election: the rise of Beppe Grillo and his ‘Five-Star Movement’ (M5S). He argues that Italian journalists must radically change their practices if they are to survive and remain relevant for the country.

The real innovation in Beppe Grillo’s campaigning is not his use of social media, but his success in using the internet to bring together activists at the grassroots level.

The success of Beppe Grillo’s Five-Star Movement in February’s Italian elections has focused attention on his use of the internet as a campaigning tool. Duncan McDonnell argues that many of the techniques he has adopted, such as using social media in political communications, are not as revolutionary as they are often portrayed. The real innovation has been his and the movement’s use of the internet to encourage grassroots co-ordination among activists at the local level.

The re-election of Giorgio Napolitano as Italian President merely represents the ‘calm before the storm’ in Italy’s political system.

On 20 April, the Italian Parliament re-elected Giorgio Napolitano as the country’s President, following several rounds of voting which failed to produce a successor. James Walston assesses the impact Napolitano’s election will have on efforts to break Italy’s political stalemate and create a new Italian government. He argues that any new government brokered by Napolitano will not only have to deal with severe economic problems, but also the growing rejection of the Italian political system by the country’s citizens.

Italy’s political and institutional crisis means that Beppe Grillo and Silvio Berlusconi will benefit the most if the country once again goes to the polls.

Italy’s elections at the end of February were a major victory for Beppe Grillo and his anti-establishment ‘Five Star Movement’ at the expense of the country’s traditional parties. With a hung parliament, and no deal to form a new government in sight, Aidan Regan argues that Italy faces a significant crisis, brought on not by EU-imposed austerity, but by Italians’ rejection of what they see as a corrupt political elite.

March 2013

Beppe Grillo’s success is not a rejection of austerity, but a protest against the corruption and inefficiency of the Italian political system.

The success of Beppe Grillo’s ‘Five-Star Movement’ in Italy’s elections on the 24-25 February has been regarded by some commentators as a rejection of austerity by the Italian electorate. Marco Simoni argues that rather than rejecting austerity, Italian voters were primarily protesting against decades of economic stagnation, and a political system which is prone to corruption and clientelism. He concludes that unless mainstream politics can reorganise around a credible reform agenda, populist movements will continue to play a key role in the country.

The people of Southern Italy are once again feeling dominated by the Italian, European, and Global North.

Italy’s recent elections have refocused attention on the county’s economy and widespread dissatisfaction with austerity policies. From her research on the Italian region of Calabria, Stavroula Pipyrou writes that the economic crisis has been especially harsh on Southern Italy. Those in the country’s south increasingly feel that they live in the shadow of Northern Italy. They also see little chance of respite from their increasingly precarious economy.

Italy has passed a no-confidence verdict in the centre-left.

The rise of Beppe Grillo and the political resilience of Silvio Berlusconi were two of the main stories to emerge from the aftermath of the Italian elections. As Duncan McDonnell and Giuliano Bobba argue, however, the Grillo and Berlusconi headlines should not disguise the stark position of the Italian centre-left. The Partito Democratico has now lost over three million voters in five years.

February 2013

Far from being a disaster, the results of the Italian election could be a turning point for Italy and the Eurozone.

The results of the Italian elections, in which the centre-left coalition won a majority in the Chamber of Deputies, but not in the Senate, have led to fears that the country could become ungovernable. Jonathan Hopkin takes issue with this perspective, arguing that the results could have a number of positive consequences for both Italy and the Eurozone. The failure of Mario Monti to secure a sizeable vote share, and the success of Beppe Grillo’s M5S movement, might spell the end for technocracy and austerity in Italy.

Beppe Grillo’s success in the Italian elections shows that austerity is now becoming politically unsustainable.

In the immediate aftermath of the elections, Italy was facing a hung parliament, with a centre-left majority in the Chamber of Deputies and a fragmented Senate. The real winner, wrote Valentino Larcinese, was Beppe Grillo’s 5 Star Movement, which gained 25 per cent of the vote. He argues that the movement’s success illustrates that austerity is now becoming politically unsustainable within the country.

Social media challenges mean that the next Italian government may have to fix the rules dictated by the “Par Condicio” law.

The Italian elections were partly in the spotlight because of their importance to the financial stability of the Eurozone. However they also raise questions about media regulation as they were the first held under a controversial new impartiality regime – that also applies to smartphones. Jacopo Genovese considers whether fair elections might be achieved more easily through policies addressing the concentration of media ownership.

Whoever wins this week’s Italian elections, it is unlikely that they will put an end to the ‘telecracy’ begun by Silvio Berlusconi.

As part of EUROPP’s preview of the elections, Valentino Larcinese writes on former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Despite Berlusconi’s party lagging behind the centre-left coalition in the polls, his control over the country’s media continues to have a substantial impact on the campaign. There is also little sign that the other major parties will break this hold over the Italian media, even if they are successful in the upcoming election.

The Italian centre-left is stalling in the campaign, but (probably) not in the election.

In the run up to the election, the centre-left coalition saw their comfortable polling lead reduced, but were still predicted to be successful on election day. Giuliano Bobba and Duncan McDonnell argue that despite Silvio Berlusconi and Mario Monti’s rhetoric about promoting young people and women, the centre-left PD and SEL perform better on both counts, and that this bodes well for the future of the centre-left.

In the 2013 Italian elections the centre-left coalition is almost certain to win a majority in the Chamber of Deputies, but is very unlikely to win a majority in the Senate.

As part of EUROPP’s series previewing the election, Chris Hanretty predicted the final results by pooling the most recent polling data. His findings indicated that the centre-left coalition, led by Pier Luigi Bersani of the Partito Democratico (PD), was almost certain to win a majority in the Chamber of Deputies. However they were very unlikely to gain a majority in the Senate, falling just ten seats short.

The electoral law which will be used in the 2013 Italian elections is radically different from any other electoral system in Europe.

Matteo Garavoglia outlines Italy’s electoral law, and its likely impact on the final results of the elections. He notes that the country’s electoral system contains a number of peculiarities that mark it out as being significantly different from any other system used in Europe. Among the most important is the use of ‘electoral prizes’ to artificially create majorities in both houses of Parliament.

The 2013 Italian elections will be pivotal for the future of Lega Nord and the regions of Northern Italy.

In the run up to the elections, Gianluca Passarelli assesses the prospects of one of Italy’s most controversial parties: Lega Nord. He notes that the party, which advocates regional autonomy for much of Northern Italy, has experienced a substantial increase in support over the last three years, but that infighting and leadership disputes have threatened to undermine its electoral gains.

December 2012/January 2013

Silvio Berlusconi’s anti-European rhetoric means that he may yet hold the balance of power after next year’s Italian elections.

In December 2012 the Prime Minister of Italy, Mario Monti, announced that he would resign. This was shortly followed by the reappearance of his predecessor, Silvio Berlusconi, back on to the Italian political scene. Valentino Larcinese argued that while it was unlikely that Berlusconi could win the upcoming elections, his strong brand of anti-EU, anti-austerity, and anti-euro rhetoric may yet see him hold the balance of power in the Italian government.

Beppe Grillo’s unexpected rise makes him the Italian (non)politician of the year.

While the end of year headlines in 2012 were dominated by Silvio Berlusconi and Mario Monti, Giuliano Bobba and Duncan McDonnell argued that the most interesting Italian politics story in 2012 was Beppe Grillo and his Movimento 5 Stelle. They predicted that the movement’s particular blend of anti-establishment politics, and a communication strategy that focuses on both the internet and grassroots campaigning, mean that we should expect further surprises from Beppe Grillo in 2013.


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Note:  The above articles give the views of the author, and not the position of EUROPP – European Politics and Policy, nor of the London School of Economics.

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