Right-wing victory in Italy was even larger than predicted

Yesterday, when we looked at the final polling going into the Italian elections, it appeared that the coalition of right-wing parties seeking to curb forced migration would take roughly a combined 32 to 35 percent of the vote. As it turns out, they did even better, coming in with an estimated 37%. This is still short of a single-party majority, but impossible to ignore. It adds up to what is likely 123 seats in the lower house of the legislature where they previously held 22. (CNN)

Italy is facing a populist uprising after a surge in support for anti-European parties in Sunday’s parliamentary election, however no party received enough votes to rule alone meaning the country will likely enter a period of political deadlock.

The anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) made significant gains in Sunday’s vote though with 31% of the vote, it doesn’t have enough seats to form a government, according to state broadcaster RAI.

The center-right coalition, which includes League — also known as the Northern League — along with former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia and the neo-fascist Brothers of Italy, is likely to form the largest bloc in both houses of the country’s parliament, a combined share of votes totaling over 37%.

The clear losers in the race were the currently ruling Democratic Party along with their liberal allies in the More Europe party. Between them, they managed to pull in only 23.5% of the vote, with the Democratic Party taking 19% of that. The election marks something of a contrast to the last elections in Germany, where the right-wing AfD generated a lot of buzz, but delivered fewer seats than some had projected.

The real question now is if these disparate groups will be able to form a majority coalition. While the Five Star Movement (M5S) took the largest single share with 31% of the vote, it’s unclear who they might wish to join in a coalition. Much like the right-wing alliance, M5S is a eurosceptic party, so that would make for a definitive populist majority coalition if they joined forces. But at the same time, the true calling card of M5S has been a promise to eliminate the corruption pervasive in the Italian government.

That’s not a particularly good fit when you consider that Forza Italia (one of the right-wing groups) is formed around the leadership of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who is somewhat legendary in the annals of government corruption and abuse. He’s currently barred from holding any public office by law over a variety of allegations and charges. He was already convicted of tax fraud and is being investigated for abuse of his office, bribery and soliciting minors for sex.

Italy is using yet another hybrid system of elections which further complicates how the final allocation of legislative seats in the two houses of parliament will play out and who will wind up being Prime Minister. But at this point, it’s clear that the Democratic Party is out of the running. Most of the current leaders are left to scratch their heads and wonder how all of this happened. Obviously, the populist sentiments against European Union control and forced migration were the biggest drivers, but I’m sure some other scapegoats will be found. After all, it took less than 24 hours for somebody to blame it on Steve Bannon. (And no… that wasn’t a joke.)