Thursday

26th May 2022

Italy in turmoil after election delivers hung parliament

  • Grillo has emerged as kingmaker in the Senate (Photo: kbytesys)

Italy was plunged into turmoil on Monday (25 February) after parliamentary elections delivered a hung parliament with firebrand comedian, Beppe Grillo, holding the balance of power.

The political paralysis, which seems certain to see Italians going to the polls for a second time, threatens to drag the eurozone's third largest economy back into crisis.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

With nearly all votes counted, the centre-left coalition led by Pier Luigi Bersani's Democratic party (PD) had claimed a narrow victory in the polls for both chambers of the Italian parliament but was left well short of a majority in the Senate.

After claiming 31.6 percent compared to 30.3 percent for Italy's populist former leader Silvio Berlusconi, the Democratic party was set to claim 123 Senate seats, to Berlusconi's 118.

Grillo's FIve Stars Movement took 53 seats on 24 percent, while the centrists led by EU-backed technocrat Mario Monti got only 19 seats. With 158 members needed for a Senate majority, Grillo's anti-establishment party would hold the balance of power.

Control of both parliamentary chambers is required to sustain a government.

Meanwhile, Bersani was set to claim a majority in the lower house after defeating Berlusconi by a narrow 29.7 percent to 29.1 percent margin. Under Italian election law, the biggest party in the Chamber of Deputies is awarded 54 percent of the seats.

The strong performance of three-time prime minister Berlusconi, who is currently standing trial over allegations that he had sex with an underage prostitute, came as a surprise, but the big winner was Grillo's Five Star Movement.

Grillo, a stand up comedian, whose party was set up on the Internet in 2009, told La Stampa that "in three years we have become the No 1 party in Italy. Nobody can beat us."

He has tapped into widespread public dissatisfaction with Italy's political establishment, and has no intention to serve in a coalition government, added that "the only solution is a PD-PDL alliance".

The Democratic party issued a statement that "a second round of voting is not the solution," while Monti insisted that "a government must be guaranteed."

The early elections were triggered in December when Berlusconi's Freedom party (PDL) withdrew its parliamentary support for Monti's technocratic government.

The results are a disaster for outgoing technocratic PM Mario Monti, whose centrist coalition was relegated to a distant fourth place.

Monti, a former European Commissioner, had been widely praised in Brussels for restoring stability to Italy, which was on the brink of needing a bailout when Berlusconi was ousted in November 2011.

The vote also deals a huge blow to Bersani, who had promised to stick to the reform programme of Monti alongside targeted measures to stimulate job creation.

Initial exit polls had pointed to a 5-7 point win for Mr Bersani. Senior EU officials had also been quietly hoping for a government led by Bersani and Monti.

Despite the Monti reforms, which are expected to see Italy run a balanced structural budget in 2014, the country remains deep in recession, with Greece the only EU country to have a bigger debt burden.

The uncertainty filtered through to the financial markets, with the euro hitting a six week low of 1.31 against the dollar. Meanwhile, yields on Italian 10 year bonds edged up four basis points to 4.49 percent.

Italian President demands respect in Germany

Italian President Napolitano has, while on a trip to Germany, demanded respect for Italy and cancelled a meeting with the German opposition leader after he mocked election results.

Opinion

Why is Italy in political stalemate?

Fundamental differences on how to govern Italy, not on policy, are stopping Italy's top three parties from making a deal.

Opinion

Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine - the case for granting EU candidacy

Granting EU candidacy status to Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine will firmly anchor their ties with Brussels — and enable the EU to secure its place in the Black Sea region, connecting Europe to China and energy-rich Central Asia, bypassing Russia.

Opinion

The EU Parliament Covid inquiry: the questions MEPs must ask

A basic lack of transparency around the EU's vaccines procurement negotiations has prevented effective public and parliamentary scrutiny. It has also made it impossible to answer some of the key questions we put forward here.

News in Brief

  1. Dutch journalists sue EU over banned Russia TV channels
  2. EU holding €23bn of Russian bank reserves
  3. Russia speeds up passport process in occupied Ukraine
  4. Palestinian civil society denounce Metsola's Israel visit
  5. Johnson refuses to resign after Downing Street parties report
  6. EU border police has over 2,000 agents deployed
  7. Dutch tax authorities to admit to institutional racism
  8. Rutte calls for EU pension and labour reforms

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic delegation visits Nordic Bridges in Canada
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersClear to proceed - green shipping corridors in the Nordic Region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers agree on international climate commitments
  4. UNESDA - SOFT DRINKS EUROPEEfficient waste collection schemes, closed-loop recycling and access to recycled content are crucial to transition to a circular economy in Europe
  5. UiPathNo digital future for the EU without Intelligent Automation? Online briefing Link

Latest News

  1. EU summit will be 'unwavering' on arms for Ukraine
  2. Orbán's new state of emergency under fire
  3. EU parliament prevaricates on barring Russian lobbyists
  4. Ukraine lawyer enlists EU watchdog against Russian oil
  5. Right of Reply: Hungarian government
  6. When Reagan met Gorbachev — a history lesson for Putin
  7. Orbán oil veto to deface EU summit on Ukraine
  8. France aims for EU minimum-tax deal in June

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us