A volatile electorate, with 40% undecided and abstentionists; an electoral law that can cause an unprecedented majority in Parliament and an unusual summer campaign, in which the polls have always given victory to the right, are some keys to the Italian elections on the 25th.
an unusual campaign
Italy has experienced a brief summer electoral campaign, which has only been activated in the last two weeks prior to the elections, called in advance in July, when a parliamentary vote caused by surprise the fall of the prime minister with the greatest consensus in the history of Italy of the last years: Mario Draghi.
His “national unity” government included all but one party, the far-right Brothers of Italy (FdI), of Giorgia Melonithe great favorite to be the next prime minister in all the polls, which have shown for months that the right-wing coalition that he heads will win the elections by a landslide.
On the last day to publish polls, 15 days before the elections, FdI was around 25% of the votes and its alliance with the extreme right Matteo Salvini (League) and conservative Silvio Berlusconi (Forza Italia, FI) exceeded 45%, 19 points more than the progressive Democratic Party (PD).
The PD of Enrico Letta appeared second (21.5%), ahead of Liga (12.3%) and FI (8%), but without significant allies after breaking its electoral agreement with the M5S of Giuseppe Conte (15%) for propitiating the fall of Draghi.
The so-called “third pole”, formed by the centrists Acción and Italia Viva, with whom the PD also did not reach an agreement, stands at 6.7%.
A high abstention
The volatility of the Italian electorate, with more than 51 million voterswill mark the result of the elections and more when there is a rate of undecided and abstentionists that is around 40% and that, surprisingly, grows as the campaign progresses.
“It’s stupid. I think people have realized that it was crazy to make Draghi fall,” the leader of the PD, which is the main progressive formation in the country, told Efe about it.
Instability has been a key factor in the elections of the last decade, with “a constant tendency of the Italian electorate to invest a lot in a party, in a political figure,” he explains to Efe Alberto Vanucci, Professor at the Department of Political Science at the University of Pisa.
“There is a very wide band that does not have an ideological identity feeling and that is looking for the figure that offers them the greatest hope for change. Then that figure disappoints and another one is sought,” adds the expert about “the sign of deep discontent with politics.”
In these elections, the renewal is represented by Meloni, who can become the first woman to preside over a Government in Italy after being the only opposition during Draghi’s mandate and the two previous governments. “She is young and female, a profound sign of change. Beyond the contents of his message, with his mere presence, he plastically represents the idea of change”, explains Vannucci.
A peculiar electoral system
The current Italian electoral law was approved in 2017 and favors large coalitions, since its intention was to prop up bipartisanship and stop the populist 5-Star Movement (M5S)which won the generals the following year.
Called “Rosatellum”, it is a mixed system in which 61% of the seats are assigned by the proportional method -based on the percentage of votes obtained- and 37% depend on a majority with single-member constituencies, where the coalition -not the party – who gets one more vote will win the seat. The remaining 2% is reserved for voting abroad: 12 deputies and senators.
in these elections 600 parliamentarians will be elected (400 deputies and 200 senators) compared to the current 945 (630 and 315) after a reform approved in a referendum.
The right “has made better use of the characteristics of the electoral law, with its great coalition”, since “having a quota of 45% of the votes according to the polls, they could reach 70% of the parliamentary representation if they win in all the single-member schools,” according to Vannucci.
“It would be the first time in the history of Italy”, adds the expert, concerned that an “oversized representation, much greater than its effective weight in society” supposes “an armored, very strong majority” with which “there is a risk that a large proportion of citizens do not feel represented and delegitimize the actions of the future government.
The left, much more fragmented, already warned that this could allow the right to make changes to the Constitution without the need for the consensus of the parties or the ratification of the citizens in a referendum.