Why this story matters:
Although we still do not know to whom the President of the Republic, Sergio Mattarella, will entrust the task of forming the new government, it almost certain that the next government will need the support of either the 5 Star Movement or the Northern League (or both) to create a coalition -- not a match made in heaven, to say the least. There will be no easy way out of this situation.
Yet, however enigmatic the results, the election is a testimony to macropolitical trends visible across the EU and in the US.
If we examine the election map, two phenomena emerge -- the disappearance of the left-wing and the rift in the middle of Italy, between a center-right-oriented north and a south that voted for the populist 5 Star Movement. Another fault line can be observed between the big cities and the provinces, much like in the 2016 US election.
When it comes to particular groups, the center-right Northern League is not an isolated and typically Italian phenomenon. It is part of a European trend -- the rise of xenophobic movements, such as Marine Le Pen's National Front in France or Geert Wilders in the Netherlands. The same applies to the collapse of the Democratic Party, led by ex-PM Matteo Renzi, which is part of a decline observed in many social democratic parties across Europe.
Italy's case is special in regard to the fate of our left wing. In France, Great Britain and to some extent in the US, the leftist parties are experiencing a gradual revival, but in Italy we have witnessed a total collapse of the radical left.
Clearly, protest votes have been cast in favor of the 5 Star Movement. Let's see how they cope with this hegemony.
Details from the story:
- On March 4, Italians voted in the parliamentary elections.
- The party that scored the most votes -- 32,68% -- is the 5 Star Movement. In southern Italy, their victory was overwhelming, with over 50% of votes cast in their favor in some regions.
- The Northern League, which is part of the center-right coaltion, is also considered to be a winner. Having scored 17%, they overtook their ally Forza Italia (which gathered 14% of the votes) and thus would have a say in a potential center-right government. In total, the coalition received 37%.
- Both the left and the center-left will be poorly represented in the parliament. 18% of the voters chose the Democratic Party (6,5% less than in previous election). The Free and Equal party has slightly exceeded the 3% barrier, while the new left-wing movement Power to the People scored a little over 1%.