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Inside Story

Italy: Protest, polls and political paralysis

As the country's pivotal election failed to produce an outright winner, we ask how it will avoid more economic woes.
Last Modified: 28 Feb 2013 08:09

The results of Italy's elections are in, and there is perhaps even more uncertainty than there was before the vote began.

"The big majority of Italians wanted a different kind of Europe, not a Europe of austerity but a Europe that could help the countries to have another kind of prosperity and I think that all the protests that we see in Europe, in Bulgaria, in Spain, in Greece, and now in Italy show that Europe has to pay attention to this kind of situation."

- Pier-Virgilio Dastoli, the president of the European Movement in Italy

The dramatic election failed to produce an outright winner and now sworn enemies must consider working together to avoid more economic woes.

There has been an angry backlash over austerity measures which has thrown Italy into political turmoil.

Tired of the same old politics and politicians, Italians have instead thrown their support behind the grassroots campaign of one-time comedian Beppe Grillo.

His Five Star Movement has become the largest single party in the country by campaigning on a non-party platform.

According to election results, of the 630 seats of the Chamber of Deputies, or Lower House, the centre-left grouping of Pier Luigi Bersani won just over 29 percent of the vote - but in doing so, gained a huge advantage.

To make sure the largest party gains a majority, it is automatically awarded 340 seats, if it has less than 55 percent of the vote.

"What is bad for financial markets is not necessarily bad for country and people .... Now the real essence of this election is the significance of Beppe Grillo and I think its significance runs far beyond Italy. It speaks to a lot of the politics that is developing throughout Europe .... Both parties, the governing parties in Italy are not giving what voters want ... so voters have gone elsewhere."

- Thomas Palley, a senior economic policy adviser AFL-CIO

Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right coalition was just 0.4 of a percent behind and so was awarded 124 seats as a direct proportion to the number of votes.

Meanwhile, Beppe Grillo's Five Star Movement became the biggest single party - with just over 25 percent and 108 seats.

And the centrist coaltion of former Prime Minister Mario Monti won just 10 percent of the vote, and 45 seats.

And a look at the results for the 315 seats in the Senate or Upper House sjows that Bersani's coalition won 31 percent of the vote, taking 113 seats.

Berlusconi's 12-party bloc took 30 percent, but won 116 seats because of a regional bonus. Grillo's Five Star Movement won 23 percent, and 54 seats. And Monti's bloc took 9 percent and 18 seats.

So, what does the uncertain election outcome mean for the future of Italy and the eurozone?

Inside Story, with presenter Kamahl Santamaria, discusses with guests: Pier-Virgilio Dastoli, the president of the European Movement in Italy; Alberto Nardelli, an Italian affairs analyst; and Thomas Palley, a senior economic policy adviser to the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO).

"Silvio Berlusconi's party did as polled, the impact of that number is much bigger because of the way the senate regional voting system works. The big story is the collapse in the centre-left support ... because if you actually look at the numbers, Berlusconi was predicted to get about 28 to 30 percent of the votes, which is more or less what he got. What happened is the big collapse in centre-left support and the rise of Beppe Grillo, I think that's what caused the outcome in terms of seats."

Alberto Nardelli, an Italian affairs analyst

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Source:
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