Italy far-right claims coalition has 'right' to govern

No political party won enough seats in Parliament to claim a majority, meaning that Italy's politicians will be forced to launch negotiations to form a governing coalition.

"In the coming months, the League will try to absorb Forza Italia and become the main representative of the Italian right".

The rest of the European Union is watching closely the developments that the Italian elections caused. Before the vote, he was quoted in the New York Times as saying that Italy's election "epitomizes everything, it is pure populism".

Nearly 34 million Italians went to vote last Sunday which accounts for 73% of the total registered voters.

Luigi di Maio, chief of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, said in televised comments that the Five Stars are open to talks "with all other parties" after admitting that while they have "tripled their seats" in parliament, they still don't have the numbers to form a government on their own.

The Northern League now has about 18% of the vote.

THE ITALIAN ELECTION has thrown the dynamite in the fire after the two populists movements gain the most votes. After Di Maio's policy shifts, the positions of the two parties are now not far apart on Europe, welfare and taxation. The end result being the Five Star Movement and the anti-immigrant League believing that they have the right to govern.

A tie-up with the PD, Italy's most establishment party, may be scarcely more palatable for Five Star's voters, but it would be far more acceptable to the person who will actually pick the next prime minister: president Sergio Mattarella. The M5S's candidate for prime minister, Luigi Di Maio, also sounded a conciliatory note.

However, it is not obvious at this stage who could work with Beppe Grillo's party to lead the country. In its last report, Freedom House ranked Italy as only "partly free" in terms of freedom of the press, lamenting the "heavy concentration of media ownership" - a clear reference to Berlusconi's media empire - and "political influence on the public broadcaster" (the centre-left has traditionally dominated public television channels).

Commentators suggest this gives Lega leader Matteo Salvini a true shot at becoming Italy's PM.

He said before the vote that he would offer a "government contract" - a deal short of a coalition - insist on being premier, and refuse to share out ministerial jobs. "So I see it as a vote for the future", Salvini said.

"This obviously raises the threat of a downwards spiral of tit-for-tat tariff barriers being imposed by the European Union and the USA, leading us to a genuine trade war, with spillover effects onto most other economies", said Michael Every, a strategist at Rabobank International.

"And of course contact will be established with the next Italian government, whatever its makeup", Seibert told a regular news conference. Along with France, both Germany and the Netherlands managed to push back major wins by their own populists in elections previous year. Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, general-secretary of Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats, stressed that it is a very hard situation as things are unpredictable as far as the creation of the next Italian government is concerned. Such an outcome would, however, severely hamper French President Emmanuel Macron's and German Chancellor Angela Merkel's plans for greater integration across the EU.

At this time past year, the rise of populism was considered by many economists as the gravest cloud hanging over Europe's economic future, especially as worries over Greece had abated. Hence, two political parties representing the anti-establishment bloc are vying for power.

The magnitude of this victory is paralleled only by the uncertainty surrounding this relatively new political formation.

Parties in the traditional moderate centre, with Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia leaning to the right, and Matteo Renzi's PD (Democratic Party) leaning to the left, were not able to capture the changing mood of the electorate and were defeated.

  • Leroy Wright