Italian parties are drawing battle lines ahead of next year’s parliamentary elections:
- Democratic Party leader Matteo Renzi, who hopes to become prime minister for a second time, has ruled out another grand coalition with Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia. Polls suggest such a left-right pact may be the only alternative to a Euroskeptic government.
- Small left-wing parties have ruled out an alliance with the Democrats. Senate speaker Pietro Grasso, who broke with Renzi in October, is planning to lead a new party, which could split the left-wing vote in favor of the right and the populist Five Star Movement.
- Berlusconi is appealing a ban from public office, owing to a conviction for tax fraud, to the European Court of Human Rights, but it is unlikely to rule in time for him to stand for election.
- The formerly separatist Northern League, which splits the right-wing vote with Berlusconi’s party, has said it would rather go into government with the Five Star Movement than Renzi.
- The Five Stars have ruled out coalitions altogether.
The left, right and Five Star Movement would each get around a third of the votes. But because a third of the seats in the lower chamber of parliament are allocated on a first-past-the-post basis, it matters who places first.