Italian General Elections: What Will Change

The good news about the general elections held on Sept. 25 in Italy is that voters have unequivocally punished Mario Draghi and his legacy; the bad news is that “Draghism”, while kicked out from the main door, might come back through the window.

The elections were won by the center-right alliance, with 43.79% in the Chamber of Deputies and 44.2% in the Senate. Thanks to a “majority bonus”, the coalition ends up with a large majority in both houses (235 seats out of 400 in the Chamber and 112 out of 200 in the Senate). Within the center-right, Giorgia Meloni’s Fratelli d’Italia (FdI) got the most votes as expected, with 25.99%, while its allies Lega scored 8.77%, Forza Italia 8.11% and a tiny moderate group 0.95%. In the Senate, Fdi got 26.01%, the Lega 8.85%, FI 8.27% and the “Moderates” 0.89%.

The big success of FdI, which increased its votes sevenfold from the 2018 elections, is due to the simple fact that under the ruinous reign of the Draghi government, FdI was the only opposition party. Conversely, the Lega lost 50% of its 2018 votes because it had joined the Draghi government.

The center-left suffered a historic debacle, mainly because they were the most enthusiastic supporters of the Draghi government, but also because Democratic Party leader Enrico Letta refused to ally with the Five Star Movement (M5S) and ran in a coalition with minor groups, such as the Greens and the pro-EU party “Più Europa”, plus the splinter group around former M5S leader and Foreign Minister Luigi di Maio. Thus, the center-left only received 26.13% and 80 seats in the Chamber and 25.99% and 51 seats in the Senate.

The M5S, which ran alone under former PM Giuseppe Conte, got an unexpected 15.43% and 41 seats in the Chamber and an equally unexpected 15.55% and 28 seats in the Senate. That result is much lower than the whopping 32% in 2018, but still better than forecast, given the incompetence shown by its representatives in the government and by the fact that they too, had been part of the Draghi government. However, Conte had expressed his disagreement with Draghi on the Ukraine war and ultimately promised to maintain his “baby”, the so-called reddito di cittadinanza, or citizens’ income, which all the other parties want to either cancel or reduce.

A fourth group, born out of the merger of former PM Matteo Renzi’s Italia Viva party and former minister Carlo Calenda’s new party called Azione, failed to reach its goal of over 10%, which would have allowed them to play the kingmaker between the two blocs, receiving 7.79% in the Chamber and 7.73% in the Senate. This is worth reporting, as Renzi-Calenda had enjoyed overproportional media coverage and campaigned on a plan to bring back Mario Draghi as Prime minister.

The real winner of the elections, however, are the non-voters. Abstentionism was at the record-high level of 36%, with peaks of 50% in some Southern Italian regions.

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