Tuesday

17th Jul 2018

Italy to hold elections on 4 March

  • Former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi (c) is back in Italian politics, although he cannot become prime minister unless a tax fraud conviction is overturned (Photo: kremlin.ru)

Italy will go to the polls on 4 March, the government decided on Thursday (28 December), after the Italian president dissolved parliament.

The elections could mean the end for Paolo Gentiloni's run as prime minister, and a possible return to the centre of power for Silvio Berlusconi.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... our join as a group

  • Gentiloni (r) could stay on as caretaker prime minister if the March elections produce a hung parliament (Photo: elysee.fr)

The centre-left has been in power in Italy since 2013 and suffered electoral setbacks elsewhere in Europe.

The elections could also result in a period of uncertainty, if polls predicting the outcome come true.

None of the parties or traditional coalitions would win a majority, if current polls are accurate.

If coalition talks stall, it could mean that the current cabinet of Gentiloni would be required to continue as caretaker government.

That would see Gentiloni representing his country as a lame duck prime minister at the 22-23 March EU summit in Brussels for example, when trade, defence, the single market, and digital issues like taxation of the digital economy are on the agenda.

But outgoing prime minister Gentiloni said on Thursday that Italy could handle a period of uncertainty.

"We mustn't dramatise the risk of instability, we are quite inoculated against it," he told reporters.

Since World War II, the largest eurozone country after Germany and France has seen frequent changes of government.

The centre-left government in power since the previous elections in 2013 has seen already three prime ministers.

Before Gentiloni, it was led by Matteo Renzi, who in turn had dethroned Enrico Letta.

In March, it will be Renzi who will vie to become prime minister again on behalf of the Democratic Party.

But polls indicated tough competition.

One party doing well is the Five Star Movement, a populist party which in the European Parliament sits with the eurosceptic Ukip, although it often behaves more constructively on topics such as the environment.

The anti-establishment party, led by Luigi Di Maio, has previously promised a referendum on Italy's eurozone membership.

Last Summer though, Five Star Movement member Carla Ruocco told Reuters that a euro referendum was a plan B and "a negotiating tool".

"Big investors and markets should be able to distinguish it from the real intentions of a 5-Star government on the subject of the euro," she said.

The other party doing well in the polls is the centre-right Forza Italia, led by former prime minister Berlusconi.

The 81-year old billionaire said on Thursday that if in power, Forza Italia would provide a monthly €1,000 basic income to the 9 million poorest Italians.

"Nobody can live well, even if they are well off, knowing that around us there are millions of Italians who have to live on public assistance or private charity," said Berlusconi, who himself would not be able to become prime minister due to a conviction for tax fraud.

The plan was immediately criticised by Renzi, asking how it would be paid - "with Monopoly money?"

Italian regions demand autonomy from Rome

The Lombardy and Veneto regions in northern Italy are seeking greater self-determination from the central government following referendum results on Sunday.

EU approves rescue of Italian banks

The European Commission gave the green light to a €17-billion plan by the Italian government to save Banca Popolare di Vicenza and Veneto Banca.

Analysis

Sicily: Renzi finds Achilles heel in boot of Italy

Elections in Sicily at the weekend saw Matteo Renzi's Democratic Party trounced into third place - can the one-time wonder kid of Italian politics bounce back in time for 2018's national election?

Italians vote in election dominated by migration and EU

Sunday's election outcome, under a new system, remains uncertain and is likely to result in uneasy coalitions between parties with conflicting views on how to deal with migrants and play a senior role in Europe.

EUobserved

How radical is Italy's Savona really?

Italy is in a political crisis because president Sergio Mattarella has rejected Paolo Savona as a cabinet member, for his views on the EU.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  2. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  4. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  6. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  8. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  9. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  12. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs

Latest News

  1. EU and Japan wave light in Trump's 'darkness'
  2. How Israel silences Palestine in EU circles
  3. Putin asks Trump to go after British activist
  4. May caves in to Brexiteer demands, risking 'no deal'
  5. EU and China agree on words, not yet on action
  6. EU is 'foe', as Trump seeks to make friends with Putin
  7. Let's not be 'naive' with Chinese partner, says senior MEP
  8. Trump, trade, and Brexit in EU headlines This WEEK

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us