Italian election - close enough?

 

Yes. The Italian election result is utterly confusing. As things have become clearer it is fairly certain that Prodi will head the next Italian government. Italian daily ANSA says that Prodi forges ahead with govt plans although he admitted they would have to wait until sometime in May before officially taking office. The BBC now concur with this Italian poll result set to stand BBC

From Reuters Berlusconi refuses to concede Prodi win it looks like Berlusconi is saying there are still voting 'irregularities' The recount of spoilt ballot papers has taken place and is deemed not to effect the outcome of the election.

 

Lower house:

L’Unione (Prodi’s group) has a tiny percentage majority (49.8% against 49.7%) but it gets a good majority in terms of seats, because the new system (forced through two months ago by Berlusconi to favour his own side) gives bonus seats to the winning group. So L’Unione gets 348 seats, the right gets 281 seats. See here in La Republica (in Italian). This page also details the seats for each party within each coalition. These results are definitive and are clearly decisive.

Which means that Rifondazione Comunista received 5.8% of the total vote (2.2 million votes) which means they have 41seats of the 340 L'Unione seats.

The Greens, who are also part of Prodi's bloc received 2.1% of the national vote and 15 seats in the lower house and combined their vote with Comunisti Italiani (dissidents from Rifondazione Comunista who won 16 seats) in the Upper House.

From the right one of the most worrying signs is that the far right Fini's 'Alleanza Nazionale' won 12.3% of the national vote and the Northern League 4.6% (almost 1 and half million votes) which demonstrates a clear hard right current in Italy although this is not an increase on previous recent elections. One piece of good news is that Alessandra Mussolini, Mussolini's grand daughter failed to achieve even one percent and was denied a place in Parliament.

There is also an independent elected elected to the lower house - more on them when we know...

Berlusconi did chance his arm offering a coalition of the 'right and left' but Prodi quite rightly said that "There is absolutely no need for a broad coalition because we have the majority to govern... There is no risk not being able to govern because we have produced a great programme which has been signed by everyone," This is very unlikely to happen.

The chart below shows the number of seats each of the left coalition partners won for the lower house.


 

 

Upper house:

In the Upper House, which is the weaker of the two houses (a bit like the House of Lords) L’Unione got 49.0% against 50.2% for the right, but got 154 seats against 155 for the right.

This is because the senate seats are elected on a regional basis (which also accounts for the uneven nature of the coalitions in that different regions came to different agreements).

The largest group in the Prodi slate for the Upper House was the Democratic Left (who are the bulk of the old Communist Party having dropped the hammer and sickle when they changed their name) with 17.2% of the national vote.

Rifondazione Comunista (PRC) received just over two and a half million votes winning 39 seats of the 154. Insieme con l'Unione (the joint slate of Greens and dissident PRC members) got 4.1% and 11 seats

L’Unione also got 4 out of the 6 senators for Italians resident overseas (this is a new feature, introduced by Berlusconi I think in the hope of gaining an advantage but people abroad can see more clearly what a clown Berlusconi is so they have rejected him). See http://www.repubblica.it/speciale/2006/elezioni/senato/index.html

But whilst most Italians abroad have leaned to the left there is one country that is an exception to this - Italians in Iraq where the entire Left bloc received a measly 18.3% for the senate vote, I wonder if there is something about the kind of Italian that might be in Iraq at the moment that inclines them to the right - I'm surprised the left got as many as they did here frankly.

Another weird note about these six senators is that they are not resident in Italy, so quite how they exercise their voting rights I'm slightly unclear.

The chart below shows the distribution of seats for the left in the Senate. One clear difference is where in the lower house L'Ulivo have more seats that the rest of the left put together, in the senate the left seats are more evenly distributed, which could mean a stronger negotiating hand for the minor partners.


 

The left wins by a (pubic) hair - cartoon from Il ManifestoOverall:

Whilst the overall election result is tight and very unsatisfactory in terms of sweeping the right out of office the 2.2 million PRC vote puts it in a very strong position within the L'Union coalition and is a clear move forwards from the 1.7 million votes they received in equivalent elections in 2001.



 

 

 

 

 

Special thanks to Tim Oxton

 

 

April 2006

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