Germans are more centrist and optimistic than most Europeans. The French and the Spanish have yet to feel the economic recovery and are more inclined to vote for parties on the far left and the far right. The Italians are even more pessimistic, yet they remain wary of extremes.
Those are among the findings of a Europe-wide survey conducted by the German Bertelsmann Stiftung.
Silvio Berlusconi is eying a comeback in Italy — again.
The eighty-year old former media tycoon, who was prime minister four times between 1994 and 2011, still leads Forza Italia, the country’s largest conservative opposition party.
But it is only polling around 14 percent support. So many things need to happen to put Il Cavaliere back in power that it looks like a long shot:
The European Court of Human Rights needs to overturn Berlusconi’s ban from public office. Elections must be held before May 2018, but Berlusconi can’t run again until 2019 due to a conviction for tax fraud. He is appealing the verdict.
The ruling center-left Democratic Party and the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, which are polling in first and second place, respectively, need to lose popularity.
So does the formerly separatist Northern League, which Matteo Salvini is transforming into a national right-wing populist force that is anti-euro and anti-immigration.
A new electoral law must have a high-enough threshold to prevent Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano’s center-right Popular Alternative from eating into Berlusconi’s margins — but not so high as to prevent the nationalist Brothers of Italy from winning seats. Berlusconi would need them for a majority. Read more
Italy’s Renzi Calls for German-Style Voting System
It doesn’t look like the two left-wing contenders for the French presidency will be able to make a pact.
I wrote here a few days ago that Benoît Hamon, the mainstream Socialist Party candidate, and the far left’s Jean-Luc Mélenchon could have bested the French center. A left-wing unity ticket would have qualified for the second voting round in May, according to recent polls. Marine Le Pen of the National Front is expected to qualify as well. Forced to choose between a leftist and a nativist, a majority of the French would presumably opted for the former.
But neither Hamon nor Mélenchon is willing to play second fiddle, as a result of which the left won’t stand a chance. Read more
Italy’s Democratic Party leader, Matteo Renzi, launched his candidacy for reelection this week by presenting himself as the alternative to nationalist leaders in his own country as well as America and France.
“Some people wanted a party congress to find an alternative to Renzi-ism. It needs to be done as an alternative to Trumpism, Le Penism and even Grilloism,” the former prime minister said, referring to the new president of the United States, the leader of France’s National Front and the founder of Italy’s anti-establishment Five Star Movement. Read more