The 2013 Italian general election: a new source of European instability?

Parliament house flag post

The 2013 Italian general election: a new source of European instability?

Posted 1/03/2013 by Nina Markovic

The Italian general election took place on 24–25 February with the lowest voter turnout since the 1950s (under 75 per cent) and did not produce a clear parliamentary majority. It has left Italy politically deadlocked whilst rekindling fears of a new source of European instability.

European press and politicians have suggested that an uncertain election result in the Eurozone’s third largest economy (after Germany and France) has renewed fears of an imminent crisis in the Eurozone. Trading on the international financial markets was affected after the results were announced, as Italy’s markets slumped and the global oil price dropped. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) reported that the Australian share market was also adversely affected.

Public backlash against austerity measures

The election result suggests that Italy remains divided over responses to the economic crisis that has prompted tens of thousands of skilled job seekers to leave Italy.

The table below shows the distribution of seats, which includes those reserved for overseas candidates.

Election 2013
Centre-Left (Bersani)
Centre-Right (Berlusconi)
With Monti for Italy alliance
Lower House
Source: La Stampa

The Centre-Left Democratic Party (DP) alliance Italy. The Common Good, led by social democrat Pier Luigi Bersani, emerged as the Italian voters’ first choice. DP (which was formed in 2007 and supported Berlusconi’s and Monti’s Governments) won the majority of seats in the Lower House (345), but not in the Senate where it needed 158 seats and only won 123. As reported in The Age, DP’s deputy Enrico Letta, who visited Australia in 2012, said that the election outcome will have ‘very heavy consequences for Italy at the European level’.

The Centre-Right alliance, led by Italy’s richest man and three-times Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi (at the helm of the People of Freedom Party) was the second-most preferred party. It refused to enter into a coalition with the outgoing Prime Minister Mario Monti, who was until last December a member of the People of Freedom party. In November 2011, Senator for Life Monti replaced Berlusconi and headed Italy’s interim government. In response to calls from the European Central Bank to stabilise the Eurozone, Monti introduced unpopular austerity measures and increased taxes. The With Monti for Italy alliance came fourth.

‘M5S’ parliamentary rise

The biggest surprise of Italy’s general election was the electoral success of the Five Star Movement (‘MoVimento 5 Stelle’ or M5S), which came third in the election. M5S obtained the largest share of votes on a single party preference, winning 25.55 per cent of the general vote. It now holds the balance of power, particularly in the Senate.

M5S was launched on 4 October 2009 by entrepreneur Gianroberto Casaleggio and Italy’s Eurosceptic political satirist Beppe Grillo. One of M5S’s electoral promises (that also appears on Grillo’s blog which is ranked as number one in Italy and among the world’s top 20) was to ‘Clean Up’ the Italian Parliament. Beppe Grillo, who was trained as an accountant before becoming a comedian, founded the Five Star Movement on an anti-corruption platform, pledging to hold a referendum on Italy’s membership in the Eurozone.

Critics say that M5S does not have a clear economic platform, and have accused the movement of being ‘undemocratic’. Grillo is not likely to enter parliament as a result of his 1980 criminal conviction for manslaughter in a car accident.

Italo-Australian vote

Italy’s Interior Ministry observed that 29 per cent of eligible voters in Australia participated in the 2013 election, with the Democratic Party receiving the majority of Italo-Australian votes for both chambers, followed by the With Monti for Italy alliance. Nine Italians residing in Australia competed for seats reserved for overseas Italian candidates, and the names of selected candidates will be revealed over the next few weeks.

Four scenarios for Italy

Italy is now facing a choice between four scenarios:
A prolonged period of political instability in Italy risks further undermining investors’ confidence by raising the spectre of Italy’s bailout. Whichever option prevails, the need to address unemployment, illegal migration and massive public debt (of 126 per cent of GDP in 2012 or 2 trillion Euros) will put extra pressure on Italy’s 17th Parliament, which is scheduled to resume on March 15.

Thank you for your comment. If it does not require moderation, it will appear shortly.
Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Add | Email Print


Flagpost is a blog on current issues of interest to members of the Australian Parliament

Parliamentary Library Logo showing Information Analysis & Advice




refugees asylum immigration parliament climate change Australian foreign policy elections social security welfare reform women welfare policy school education private health insurance Taxation Indigenous Australians Australian Defence Force health financing higher education emissions trading Australian Bureau of Statistics employment people trafficking statistics Middle East illicit drugs gambling health reform federal election 2010 income management Medicare disability Sport United Nations Asia politics criminal law Afghanistan health forced labour transport aid Australian Sports Anti-Doping Agency World Anti-Doping Agency United States federal budget Industrial Relations Carbon Pricing Mechanism dental health OECD Senate Australian Public Service constitution Australian Electoral Commission WADA child protection environment poker machines Australia in the Asian Century steroids National Disability Insurance Scheme detention aged care 43rd Parliament slavery health system multiculturalism ASADA Law Enforcement Australian Federal Police Fair Work Act governance labour force people smuggling debt international relations New Zealand food Australian Crime Commission pharmaceutical benefits scheme leadership electoral reform Census election results UK Parliament Papua New Guinea banking International Women's Day corruption pensions public service reform children's health Aviation federal election 2013 foreign debt gross debt net debt defence capability parliamentary procedure Senators and Members ALP Newstart Parenting Payment Youth Allowance sea farers domestic violence military history by-election political parties High Court skilled migration voting mental health Federal Court terrorist groups science social media Higher Education Loan Program HECS federal state relations accountability youth paid parental leave same sex relationships coal seam gas customs planning doping crime health risks Gonski Review of Funding for Schooling sex slavery Special Rapporteur Northern Territory Emergency Response social policy Productivity United Kingdom firearms public policy Population violence against women China ADRV terrorism transparency research and development welfare ASIO intelligence community Australian Security Intelligence Organisation carbon tax mining employer employee renewable energy regional unemployment fishing European Union family assistance United Nations Security Council Australian economy forestry food labelling vocational education and training Drugs welfare systems Indonesia children Constitutional reform local government codes of conduct terrorist financing homelessness Parliamentary remuneration money laundering Trafficking in Persons Report energy social inclusion human rights paternalism Ireland election timetable citizenship asylum seekers early childhood education Canada Financial sector national security fuel disability employment Tasmania integrity standards NATO Australian Secret Intelligence Service sexual abuse World Trade Organization Australia public health housing affordability bulk billing water health policy Governor-General US economy trade unions export liquefied natural gas foreign bribery question time speaker superannuation public housing expertise climate Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry regulation Pacific Islands reserved seats new psychoactive substances synthetic drugs UNODC carbon markets animal health middle class welfare Indigenous constitutional recognition of local government referendum consumer laws PISA competition policy royal commission US politics language education baby bonus Leaders of the Opposition citizen engagement policymaking Australia Greens servitude Trafficking Protocol forced marriage rural and regional alcohol entitlements ministries Hung Parliament social citizenship maritime Iran ANZUS regional students school chaplains federal budget 2011-12 salary Medicare Locals primary care Building the Education Revolution family violence government financial advisers financial planners Financial System Inquiry Murray Inquiry China; Economic policy; Southeast Asia; Africa housing Speaker; House of Representatives; Parliament Defence High Court; Indigenous; Indigenous Australians; Native Title ACT Indigenous education Norfolk Island External Territories emissions reduction fund; climate change child care funding refugees immigration asylum procurement Indigenous health e-voting internet voting nsw state elections 44th Parliament 2015 ABS Age Pension Death penalty capital punishment execution Bali nine Bali bombings Trade EU China soft power education Fiji India Disability Support Pension Antarctica Diplomacy by-elections state and territories Bills anti-corruption fraud bribery corporate ownership whistleblower G20 economic reform innovation Members of Parliament Scottish referendum Middle East; national security; terrorism social services Criminal Code Amendment (Misrepresentation of Age to a Minor) Bill 2013 online grooming sexual assault of minors ACT Assembly smoking plain packaging tobacco cigarettes Asia; Japan; international relations Work Health and Safety Migration; asylum seekers; regional processing China; United States; international relations fiscal policy Racial Discrimination Act; social policy; human rights; indigenous Australians Foreign policy Southeast Asia Israel Palestine asylum refugees immigration political finance donations foreign aid Economics efficiency human rights; Racial Discrimination Act employment law bullying Animal law; food copyright Australian Law Reform Commission industry peace keeping contracts workplace policies same-sex marriage disorderly conduct retirement Parliament House standing orders prime ministers sitting days First speech defence budget submarines workers Somalia GDP world heritage political engagement leave loading Trade; tariffs; safeguards; Anti-dumping public interest disclosure whistleblowing Productivity Commission limitation period universities cancer gene patents genetic testing suspension of standing and sessional orders live exports infant mortality honorary citizen railways disciplinary tribunals standard of proof World Health Organisation arts international students skilled graduate visas temporary employment visas apologies roads Italy national heritage NHMRC nutrition anti-dumping Rent Assistance obesity evidence law sacrament of confession US presidential election international days DFAT UN General Assembly deregulation Regulation Impact Statements administrative law small business Breaker Morant regional engagement social determinants of health abortion Members suspension workplace health and safety marine reserves hearing TAFE Victoria astronomy resources sector YMCA youth parliament Korea rebate Australian Greens presidential nomination Racial Discrimination Act political parties preselection solar hot water Financial Action Taskforce Horn of Africa peacekeeping piracy Great Barrier Reef Stronger futures political financing political education Social Inclusion Board early childhood National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education and Care Murray-Darling Basin sanctions Norway hospitals republic President Barack Obama Presidential visits qantas counselling Korean peninsula Work Choices biosecurity hendra environmental law federalism federation preselection therapeutic goods Therapeutic Goods Administration plebiscites computer games pests suicide nuclear COAG Ministerial Councils floods ADHD stimulant medication advertising electricity extradition conscience votes poverty preventative health rural health coastal erosion Parliamentary Budget Office work-life balance

Show all
Show less
Back to top