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Stuck in Limbo: Analyzing Italy's Political Landscape

Italy must find its equilibrium if it hopes to solve its political and economic troubles

This post first appeared on Russia Insider

Law, art, progress: For centuries, the Italian peninsula was the driving force behind western civilization. The Italians and their ancient ancestors revolutionized science,art, technology, literature, and philosophy — sublime subjects based on a common element: equilibrium.

The luck of Italian people has always been built on creativity and equilibrium. But today, the lack of equilibrium has left Italy in crisis, while other European countries forge ahead.

<figcaption>Will Italy finally find a path to economic and political recovery?</figcaption>
Will Italy finally find a path to economic and political recovery?

This feeling has been increasing in the last months after that a majority of Italian voters rejected former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s attempt to modernize the country’s constitutional system, making it more aligned with the Western Europe political structure based on an imperfect bicameralism, a system which Italians have interpreted as an affront to the Italian Constitution, written by the first constitutionalists after the Second World War.

This is one of the explanations that experts give to explain Renzi’s failure (and soon after, resignation). But there is more to this story. In truth, many Italians voted against the referendum without really understanding the issues at hand. They simply hated Renzi, and so they voted no.

Renzi resigned some days after the referendum and the President Mattarella assigned Gentiloni, the actual Prime Minister, to set a new Government that actually is a carbon copy of Renzi’s. So the question is: What did the Italian get after refusing the constitutional reform?

Considering that the current Government mandate naturally runs out in 2018,  there are  2 possible scenarios:

1. Anticipated elections: Movimento 5  Stelle, Lega Nord, Forza Italia, Area Popolare and other representations of the left wing discontentment asks President Mattarella to announce new elections as soon as possible. But there is a problem if Italians opt for that path: the electoral law to be applied to the new Government election. Italian Parliament Members have been arguing for years about this topic and they keep on doing it without any significant result. Italicum (the current one), Mattarellum, Porcellum: these are the three proposal, different expression of methods to adopt in order to assign the political powers to parties according to the percentages resulting from the election tournament. It’s easy to understand that each party wants to have an axe to grind, to get the best in case of victory against the other parties.

For example, Beppe Grillo, Movimento 5 Stelle’s head and policy wizard, asked for anticipated elections using the current Italicum as electoral law.

"Italians must be called to vote as soon as possible - said the ex-comedian - and the fastest thing, realistic and concrete to go straight to the vote is to go with the law that already exists: the Italicum"

Massimo D'Alema, former Prime Minister, said that "it is not liable to plunge the country into new elections without a revision of the electoral law. The electoral law of the Chamber must be changed, but this you will have to give the Constitutional Court, which has postponed the trial until after the referendum. "

So, the Opposition is not united at all. This situation feeds the state of     uncertainty which only aggravates Italy’s political and economic sorrows.

2. Waiting until the end of Gentiloni Government’s mandate: Italians should prepare themselves for another 12 months of limbo. Among not irrelevant questions that need answers and facts from years: the third youth unemployment rate in Europe (36 %)  after Spain (43.6 %) and Greece (46.5%), a growing economical and quality life gap between the Northern and the Southern regions, skilled and titled young talents giving up on Italy and escaping towards the world, migrant flows management and a disastrous Public Administration management impinging the entire national development.

During his final year speech, President Mattarella stated that there won’t be an election without an electoral law approved by both the Chambers. The idea of a transition Government until 2018 seems insane, even more so for a country like Italy that suffers important social, political and ideological pathologies that need to be cured to prevent a serious chasm that was narrowly avoided in 2011 when Mauro Monti was chosen as Prime Minister by President Napolitano to substitute Silvio Berlusconi.

Of course, there is a third scenario: total uncertainty. Will Renzi return with a new concept of PD (Democratic Party) or will he show up with his own brand, and a new party? And what if the Italian politicians intend to maintain this state of limbo just to complete their four years and six months mandate, the necessary requirement  to receive the 3000/6000 euro annuity for life?

What do Italian think about the current and the future Italian Policy status?

Mercuryo (, an Italian business consultancy company, has conducted a survey based on the 4 questions that have been asked to a sample of 82 people with diverse ages, levels of istructions and geolocalization.

1. How do you judge the Italian policy current status: not very stable, stable, unstable, worrisome?


Almost a half of those interviewed (45%) admit that the current situation of Italian politics is worrisome. Nearly a quarter said it can be defined as unstable. Just 5 of the 82 who participated in the survey think that this scenario is stable. (6.1%).

2. Which political party that mostly represents you: Partito Democratico, Movimento 5 stelle, Forza Italia, Area Popolare, Sinistra Italiana, Lega Nord, None?


Despite of the last referendum results, PD seems to maintain the leadership of preferences (25.6%). The second party according to this survey is Movimento 5 Stelle that was recently dumped by The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) Party in Europe that refused the alliance with Beppe Grillo’s party. The day after the agreement a group of Italian intellectual, scientists, economists and jurists released a manifesto suggesting ALDE reunite with Movimento 5 Stelle due to its political proposal and internal policies. Beppe Grillo is practically the leader of this party but his name never appeared on a ballot.

3. How do you judge the role of Italian policy in the European Union: insignificant, weak, neutral, dominating, indicative?


In this case Italians have quite the same opinion: Weak is the adjective mostly chosen to define the role of the Italian Republic in the decisional processes of EU (56.1%).  Just one of the interviewed thinks that Italy plays a dominating role in the EU context. This is a dangerous feeling that represents the distance between EU policy and the issues that Italians are facing: immigration, the most restrictive tax system of the Union, the fact that a lot of talented workers are giving up on Italy due to the lack of perspective.

4. Italicum, Porcellum, Mattarellum, do you know the differences among these electoral laws: No, Yes, Vaguely.


Italians will vote soon enough. But are they prepared? According to Mercuryo’s survey, just 35.5% of Italians know the features of the electoral law to be applied to the next elections. Nearly half  (43.9%) have only a vague understanding of these mechanisms that determine the splitting up of the political roles when it comes to form a Parliament.

Gentiloni is now trying not to block the wave of reforms started by Renzi’s era. A lot of laws, including legislation on gay marriage, have been approved in these first days of 2017.

Will Italy find its vital equilibrium? Will Italy finally find some equilibrium, after a 7 year slump?

These are important questions that need immediate positive answers to avoid the umpteenth political failure of this unique country.

Visit Salvatore Giannavola's blog, or find him on Linkedin

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