Sunday, 19 August, 2018

Populist parties surge in gridlocked Italian vote

Map showing EU pension gap Populist parties surge in gridlocked Italian vote
| 07 March, 2018, 00:26

The 5-Star Movement, founded by an Italian comedian just nine years ago as an online-driven grassroots revolt against Italy's political establishment, was the biggest victor in Sunday's election, capturing about one-third of the vote.

But yesterday's poll failed to produce a clear victor, since none of the parties or coalitions won enough votes to govern alone.

The result could leave Italy with a hung Parliament and hard coalition talks lie ahead for parties vying to form the next government.

Financial markets opened lower and were volatile in early trading Monday.

A surge for populist and far-right parties in Italy's weekend election could result in a hung parliament with a right-wing alliance likely to win the most votes but no majority. DW looks at the man who unseated the twenty-year leader of Italy's far-right party.

The anti-establishment Five Star Movement emerged as the largest single party, but its vote share would trail a coalition of the right wing League, Forza Italia and Brothers of Italy parties.

In an upset, the results showed the right-wing, anti-immigrant and euroskeptic League party of Matteo Salvini surpassing the longtime anchor of the center-right, the Forza Italia party of ex-Premier Silvio Berlusconi.

Investors' sanguine reception of the rise of Five Star and the Northern League was reflected in Italian sovereign bonds. "I couldn't do any more than this", said a defeated Berlusconi gathered in his villa outside Milan, according to Italian nmedia.

Like Salvini, the leader of M5S said the movement takes its responsibility seriously and that the party was ready to govern.

Both the center-right bloc and the 5-Stars insisted Monday that they should be given the right to form a government in Italy.

Di Maio said that "we are a political force that represents the entire nation".


The 5-Star Movement considers itself an internet-based democracy, not a party, and views established political parties as a parasitic caste.

"The vote has radically transformed Italy's political landscape and its repercussions will be long-lasting", said political analyst Wolfango Piccoli.

The results will not be final until Monday evening, but exit polls point to a remarkable shift in Italian politics away from conventional parties to anti-establishment groups looking to shake up business as usual.

Ian Ormiston, manager of the Old Mutual Europe (ex UK) Smaller Companies fund, said the jump in Italian government bond yields on the result was "large but nothing exceptional". After that, Italian President Sergio Mattarella will consult with party leaders to figure out which coalition alternative has the highest chances of surviving a confidence vote.

'A coalition was considered a good outcome but the market preference was for one mainly involving the traditional parties, ' said Claudio Ferrarese, fund manager at Fidelity International.

In a stinging defeat for Berlusconi, the anti-immigrant League party headed by Matteo Salvini emerged as the strongest movement within the coalition, taking nearly 18 percent of the vote compared to Berlusconi's 14 percent.

The anti-immigrant and eurosceptic party of Matteo Salvini, who like Donald Trump has never held public office, gained around 18 per cent, while Forza Italia won less than 14 per cent.

Some experts say Mattarella will likely pick Gentiloni to lead a coalition government if the winning parties can not form a government among themselves.

However, Salvini's latest declaration appears to have ruled out that possibility.

"Defeated everywhere else in Europe, populism won here".

Resentment at the hundreds of thousands of migrant arrivals in Italy in recent years fired up the campaign, along with frustration about social inequalities.

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