Italy’s Leftists Open Door to Necessary Alliance

Pier Luigi Bersani addresses a Democratic Party congress in Rome, January 17, 2013
Pier Luigi Bersani addresses a Democratic Party congress in Rome, January 17, 2013 (Ilaria Prili)

Pier Luigi Bersani, the leader of Italy’s dissident leftist party, has opened the door to a pact with the ruling Democrats, saying, “If they want to talk to us, they must know that they should come with proposals.”

Bersani’s nemesis, Matteo Renzi, who toppled the older man in 2013, called for left-wing unity on Monday.

“There is more harmony with people with whom we have been divided by arguments and controversies than with our traditional rivals,” he argued. Read more

Sicily Defeat Does Not Bode Well for Italy’s Center-Left

Then-Prime Minister Matteo Renzi of Italy answers questions from reporters in Modena, September 17, 2015
Then-Prime Minister Matteo Renzi of Italy answers questions from reporters in Modena, September 17, 2015 (Palazzo Chigi)

Italy’s ruling center-left Democratic Party was defeated in regional elections on Sicily this weekend, going down from 30 to 18 percent support.

The party suffered from the same three problems locally as it does nationally:

  1. The left is divided. The purist Democrats and Progressives, who split from Democrats in February, claimed between 6 and 10 percent support.
  2. The right is united. Sicily’s Nello Musumeci was backed by former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia and the national-conservative Brothers of Italy.
  3. The populist Five Star Movement appeals to voters who are disillusioned in the old parties. Its support on Sicily went up from 18 percent in 2012 to 35 percent. Read more

Salvini Would Pick Populists Over Center-Left for Coalition

Matteo Salvini, the leader of Italy's Northern League, gives a speech in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, April 29, 2015
Matteo Salvini, the leader of Italy’s Northern League, gives a speech in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, April 29, 2015 (European Parliament)

Italy’s Northern League would rather go into coalition with the populist Five Star Movement than the mainstream center-left, its leader, Matteo Salvini, has said.

Speaking in Palermo on Monday, the conservative lamented that the Five Stars are “showing their incompetence where they govern.”

But, he added, “if I were to call someone, I wouldn’t call Renzi or Alfano” — referring to Democratic Party leader Matteo Renzi and Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano, the leader of the small center-right Popular Alternative.

Renzi’s Democrats are polling neck and neck with the Five Star Movement. Salvini’s Northern League is vying with former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia to become the largest party on the right. Support for the Popular Alternative is in the single digits. Read more

Old-School Leftists Break with Democratic Party in Italy

Pietro Grasso, the president of the Italian Senate, attends an international conference in Rome, October 5, 2015
Pietro Grasso, the president of the Italian Senate, attends an international conference in Rome, October 5, 2015 (Camera dei deputati)

The likelihood of elections being called soon is escalating tensions in Italy’s ruling center-left Democratic Party.

  • Senate speaker Pietro Grasso has left the party after criticizing the way it enacted electoral reforms. (By tying them to confidence votes, the government ensured they would pass without amendments.)
  • The Democrats and Progressives — left-wing critics of former prime minister and Democratic Party leader Matteo Renzi — applauded Grasso’s move.
  • Former prime minister Massimo D’Alema, now a member of the Democrats and Progressives, said Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni “has become like Renzi.”
  • Four Renzi loyalists — Transportation Minister Graziano Delrio, Sports Minister Luca Lotti, Agricultural Minister Maurizio Martina and Cabinet Secretary Maria Elena Boschi — did not attend a cabinet meeting this week where Ignazio Visco was confirmed to serve another term as governor of the Bank of Italy. Renzi wanted him out. Read more

Similarities and Differences Between Catalan, Italian Referendums

View of the Palazzo Balbi, the residence of the regional president of Veneto, in Venice, Italy, April 1, 2013
View of the Palazzo Balbi, the residence of the regional president of Veneto, in Venice, Italy, April 1, 2013 (Wikimedia Commons/Wolfgang Moroder)

The northern Italian regions of Lombardy and Veneto hold referendums on Sunday about increased autonomy from Rome.

Taking place less than a month after two millions Catalans voted to break away from Spain, the parallels are hard to miss. But there are important differences as well. Read more

Italian Right Makes Pact for Prime Ministership

Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi is welcomed at the headquarters of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris, France, March 27, 2010
Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi is welcomed at the headquarters of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris, France, March 27, 2010 (OECD/Benjamin Renout)

Italy’s two largest right-wing parties have agreed that whichever one of them receives the most votes in the upcoming election will provide the prime minister in a future coalition government.

The separatist Northern League is currently outpolling former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s once-dominant Forza Italia. Together with the national-conservative Brothers of Italy, they would win around a third of the seats in parliament.

The ruling center-left and the populist Five Star Movement would each win another third. Read more

Italian Voting Reforms Could Have Little Impact on Balance Between Parties

The facade of the Palazzo Montecitorio, the seat of the Italian parliament in Rome, October 23, 2010
The facade of the Palazzo Montecitorio, the seat of the Italian parliament in Rome, October 23, 2010 (Stefano Maffei)

Voting reforms enacted by the Italian parliament this week could do little to make the country more governable, an analysis of Ipsos polling data by Corriere della Sera reveals. The three main political blocs would remain roughly equal in size.

The new law allocates a third of the seats in the lower chamber on a first-past-the-post basis and removes the premium for the largest party.

The expectation was that these changes would hurt the populist Five Star Movement and help the mainstream left and right.

But it turns out the effect could be negligible. Read more