Berlusconi will be Italy’s
next prime minister and his margin of victory is bigger than most people
expected. His People of Freedom (PDL) movement, the Lega Nord and the small MPA
will be able to control both houses of parliament. Prior to the elections it
had been unclear whether the centre-right would be able to gain a majority in
the Senate. But these doubts faded on election night and the PDL/Lega Nord/MPA
will not need to look for further coalition allies.
When voting ended at 3 p.m. on Monday, early exit polls seemed to indicate a small margin of victory for the centre-right alliance and Veltroni’s PD as the strongest party. However, the exit polls turned out to be wrong. As more and more results came in, the distance between Berlusconi’s coalition and the centre-left kept on growing. In the evening, Veltroni finally conceded defeat.
night, the latest projections saw the centre-right at 45.9 and the centre-left
at 38.9 per cent in the Chamber of Deputies and at 46.8 and 38.4 per cent
respectively in the Senate.
leadership issued a statement that it was “profoundly satisfied” with the
outcome but it did not want to comment in more detail until all the results
were in. The PDL’s coalition partner, Umberto Bossi from the Lega Nord, on the
other hand, started celebrating straight away. He immediately called for new
reforms but also pledged loyalty to Berlusconi. The Lega greatly increased its share of the vote in both
houses of parliament.
loser of the elections is certainly Walter Veltroni since he failed in his bid
for the job of prime minister. Nonetheless, some other parties have just as
much reason to be disappointed. Pierferdinando Casini of the centrist UDC, for
example, had hoped to play king-maker in case of a hung parliament. But his
hopes are dashed by the margin of the PDL’s victory. The elections were also
bad news for the Socialist Party which struggled to get one per cent of the
vote and the far-right La
Destra which stayed below 3 per cent.
crushing defeat of all, however, was reserved for the radical left. The
so-called Sinistra Arcobalena, which had remixed communists and
environmentalists, fell below 4 per cent. Split into different parties at the
last elections it had won more than 10 per cent of the vote in 2006. This
spectacular defeat demonstrates that communism is not a serious force in
Italian politics anymore.
elections have yielded two principal outcomes. First of all, a new executive
can be formed which is not constrained by cliff-hanger votes and tiny parties.
This will form a welcome contrast to the Prodi government which was constantly
at the point of falling apart due to its miniscule majority in the Senate.
The second outcome is even more important and can be welcomed by the overwhelming majority of Italians regardless of their party preferences: Italy is moving towards a bipolar political system with two strong political groups, the PDL on the centre-right and the PD on the centre-left. Thus, the long political transformation which began after the disintegration of the Christian Democrats and the old Communist Party in the early 1990s is about to lead to a modern political system, capable of producing strong governments and coherent majorities.