Uncertainty looms as Italy votes

One of Europe's most critical elections of the year is underway, with Italians voting in a ...

Posted: Mar 4, 2018 7:24 PM
Updated: Mar 4, 2018 7:24 PM

One of Europe's most critical elections of the year is underway, with Italians voting in a divisive parliamentary election that is likely to push the country into a state of political paralysis with no outright winner in sight.

The fatigued electorate has faced years of economic stagnation, rampant unemployment levels and unrelenting migration, igniting an anti-EU, anti-establishment rebellion that could see the populist Five Star Movement (M5S) emerge as the single largest party in Parliament.

But familiar faces are waiting in the wings. Four-time Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has constructed a center-right coalition between his Forza Italia party and that of Matteo Salvini's far-right Northern League, along with the neo-fascist Brothers of Italy. The final pre-election poll of voters' intentions had suggested this bloc could end up with the largest grouping in Parliament.

Matteo Renzi, the center-left reformer who stepped aside in 2016 after the failure of a controversial constitutional referendum, is also a contender as leader of the center-left Democratic Party (PD). Though the final opinion poll had the party trailing at 22.8%.

Analysts do not expect any party or alliance to earn an outright majority, meaning Italy could be plunged into months of further political deadlock that could have broader implications for Europe.

Europe on alert

The state of the economy and security remained key issues ahead of the ballot, but one issue dominated this election -- immigration.

Right-wing parties pushed an anti-immigration agenda. The Northern League has advocated for mass expulsions and pledged to put "Italians first."

The narrative around immigration took a darker turn after a man linked with neo-fascist political parties apparently went on a shooting rampage targeting African migrants in the town of Macerata. The incident fueled serious political debate about how the country is reconciling its fascist past.

The poll is being closely scrutinized by European leaders who are concerned by the increasingly euroskeptical sentiment and fearful of any instability in the eurozone's third-largest economy.

"This political uncertainty, government instability and the prospect of repeated elections configure to a 'perfect storm' which could harm one of the main European democracies and further destabilize an already weak continental alliance," Fabio Bordignon, a political scientist at the University of Urbino Carlo Bo, told CNN ahead of the vote.

Related: Can anything save Italy from a return to fascism?

How the vote works

Adding to the chaos of Italian politics, a new (and untested) hybrid electoral method -- which encourages coalitions -- is in play this time round.

The new system combines a first-past-the-post (FPTP) approach with proportional representation (PR). FPTP means the candidate who gets the most votes in a constituency wins a seat in Parliament; PR means that additional seats will be allotted to parties based on the proportion of votes they win nationwide.

Of the 630 seats in lower house of Parliament -- the Chamber of Deputies -- 232 will be elected through FPTP, and 386 through PR. The remaining 12 seats are determined by overseas constituencies. A similar split will be used for Italy's upper house -- the Senate -- with 102 members elected by FPTP and 207 through PR.

Related: Rome's sad decline sums up Italy's problems

With an unproven new system in place and a bloc of undecided voters, many observers believe Italy is headed toward a hung Parliament.

"The most likely outcome is that no coherent parliamentary majority will exist after March 4," Paolo Chiocchetti, fellow of the Robert Schuman Institute of European Affairs at the University of Luxembourg.

"In this case, it is likely that the (Paolo) Gentiloni government will continue to sit in a provisional capacity while parties enter long discussions on whether (to build) an 'all-party' technical government limited to a set of specific reforms or call new general elections," he said.

This story has been corrected to reflect the Democratic Party's standing in the final poll of polls published by YouTrend on February 16, 2018.

West Lafayette
Cloudy
54° wxIcon
Hi: 56° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 54°
Kokomo
Partly Cloudy
60° wxIcon
Hi: 60° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 60°
Rensselaer
Cloudy
52° wxIcon
Hi: 55° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 52°
Fowler
Cloudy
54° wxIcon
Hi: 55° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 54°
Williamsport
Cloudy
53° wxIcon
Hi: 56° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 53°
Crawfordsville
Mostly Cloudy
55° wxIcon
Hi: 58° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 55°
Frankfort
Cloudy
55° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 55°
Delphi
Cloudy
53° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 53°
Monticello
Cloudy
53° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 53°
Logansport
Cloudy
54° wxIcon
Hi: 58° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 54°
Cloudy, windy and cooler
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1003647

Reported Deaths: 16423
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1351072116
Lake661851159
Allen57674800
Hamilton46217464
St. Joseph44210611
Elkhart35807508
Vanderburgh32162480
Tippecanoe27859258
Johnson25007444
Hendricks23795357
Porter22856365
Madison18694408
Clark18505252
Vigo17393303
Monroe15218199
LaPorte15101250
Delaware15024261
Howard14681289
Kosciusko12260147
Hancock11682175
Bartholomew11548180
Warrick11270189
Floyd11059214
Wayne10946253
Grant10019219
Morgan9438176
Boone8891116
Dubois8249131
Dearborn819893
Henry8174152
Noble8003106
Marshall7891135
Cass7519121
Lawrence7433171
Shelby7171119
Jackson695889
Gibson6567115
Harrison646691
Huntington636899
Knox6360106
DeKalb628699
Montgomery6229109
Miami591498
Putnam577678
Clinton572171
Whitley563455
Steuben558976
Wabash5309103
Jasper527879
Jefferson509297
Ripley498686
Adams479775
Daviess4653114
Scott438473
Greene423596
Wells422588
Clay421360
White417364
Decatur4152102
Fayette405787
Jennings385961
Posey375844
Washington356150
LaGrange356078
Randolph343499
Spencer338743
Fountain333860
Sullivan327852
Starke315570
Owen313970
Fulton309167
Orange292663
Jay283445
Franklin265143
Perry264852
Rush260832
Carroll260633
Vermillion257254
Parke230426
Pike228443
Tipton227259
Blackford191841
Pulaski183157
Crawford159023
Newton156848
Benton150217
Brown145747
Martin138019
Switzerland134811
Warren120816
Union107016
Ohio84213
Unassigned0540

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events