Saturday

29th Apr 2017

Italian elections re-open risk of EU crisis

  • Italy's choice will impact the whole of Europe (Photo: cristian)

Italian voters are heading to the polls on Sunday and Monday (24-25 February) in a closely-watched race that could bring the country back to the brink of a bailout.

Outgoing Prime Minister Mario Monti, a respected former EU commissioner and economics professor, may be the favourite among EU leaders watching from the side lines, but at home, he appears to have failed to convince voters that his reforms and sober politics are what the country needs today.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Pier Luigi Bersani may become the next Prime Minister (Photo: Francesca Minonne)

With a ban on opinion polls for two weeks before elections, the last available data from 8 February put Monti in fourth place.

But he is open to joining a coalition with Pier Luigi Bersani, the leader of the centre-left Democratic Party, who was then tipped to win the elections.

In a significant catch-up effort - thanks to his media empire and promises to pay back taxes introduced by Monti - former leader Silvio Berlusconi was just five percent behind Bersani in the 8 February survey.

Earlier this week, he claimed to have overtaken him - Bersani at the time had 33.8 percent support, but on a declining trend, while Berlusconi was rising to 27.8 percent.

For its part, Italy's leading investment bank, Mediobanca, has predicted that if Berlusconi wins, the country would face an immediate backlash on financial markets and could be forced to ask for financial assistance from the European Central Bank.

Also ahead of Monti and playing up to Italians' appetite for populist quips is Beppe Grillo, a comedian-turned-politician whose Five Star Movement is advocating a euro-exit.

The 8 February polls gave Grillo 18.8 percent on a rising trend, even as Monti was sliding down to 13.4 percent.

Grillo does not want to govern with Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PdL) party and has indicated he would rather trigger a new round of elections if he won.

Despite the ban on pre-weekend polling, internal surveys carried out by parties are being leaked to websites which also report on the Papal election and horse races.

According to these sites, Berlusconi is still behind Bersani, but catching up at four percent distance.

The "papal" site places Monti on 10-11 percent, while Grillo is on 17 percent.

The horse track blog has them closer - Monti on 10.5 percent and Grillo on 14 percent.

The race being so close makes it very difficult to predict a clear outcome. But if Bersani's party wins, Italian law gives it an automatic boost to 55 percent of the seats in the lower house.

In the upper house - where Italian rules award bonus seats based on regional results - the situation is more open.

Even if he loses the overall race, Berlusconi could still get enough power in the Senate to block anything a left-wing or a centre-left government might want to do.

EPP group frustrated with Orban

Orban's ruling Fidesz party is getting too much to handle for the EPP group, as they are once again forced to defend the Hungarian premier's controversial actions.

Analysis

Orban set to face down EU threats

The European Commission and Parliament are to debate Hungary's slide into illiberal democracy. But the bloc continues to think that Hungarian leader Viktor Orban is not a systemic threat.

France still anxious over possibility of Le Pen win

Despite opinion polls that place centrist Macron well ahead of the far-right leader Le Pen in the 7 May presidential run-off, doubts are emerging about his capacity to unite the French people around his candidacy.

News in Brief

  1. Vote of no confidence prepared against Spanish PM
  2. Syria to buy Russian anti-missile system
  3. Germany seeks partial burka ban
  4. Libya has no plan to stop migration flows
  5. EU has no evidence of NGO-smuggler collusion in Libya
  6. Poland gets 'final warning' on logging in ancient forest
  7. Commission gives Italy final warning on air pollution
  8. Romania and Slovenia taken to court over environment policies

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCharlotte Hornets' Nicolas Batum Tells Kids to "Eat Well, Drink Well, Move!"
  2. ECR GroupSyed Kamall: We Need a New, More Honest Relationship With Turkey
  3. Counter BalanceParliament Sends Strong Signal to the EIB: Time to Act on Climate Change
  4. ACCARisks and Opportunities of Blockchain and Shared Ledgers Technologies in Financial Services
  5. UNICEFRace Against Time to Save Millions of Lives in Yemen
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersDeveloping Independent Russian-Language Media in the Baltic Countries
  7. Swedish EnterprisesReform of the European Electricity Market: Lessons from the Nordics, Brussels 2 May
  8. Malta EU 2017Green Light Given for New EU Regulation to Bolster External Border Checks
  9. Counter BalanceCall for EU Commission to Withdraw Support of Trans-Adriatic Pipeline
  10. ACCAEconomic Confidence at Highest Since 2015
  11. European Federation of Allergy and Airways60%-90% of Your Life Is Spent Indoors. How Does Poor Indoor Air Quality Affect You?
  12. European Gaming and Betting AssociationCJEU Confirms Obligation for a Transparent Licensing Process

Latest News

  1. Oxford-Studie besorgt über 'Schrott' News in Frankreich
  2. Alte Freundschaft zwischen Le Pen und Putin
  3. EP chief faces questions after homophobic 'summit'
  4. EU signals Northern Ireland could join if united with Ireland
  5. One year later: EU right to open internet still virtual
  6. Rethinking Europe's relationship with Turkey
  7. Mob storms Macedonian parliament
  8. MEPs retain secrecy on office spending