Italy heading for another government crisis

The pan-populist government in Italy is once again in crisis – perhaps its most serious. According to media reports, Interior Minister and Lega leader Salvini as well as President Mattarella met on Friday to discuss the future of the coalition. While Mattarella Salvini is pushing for a quick decision, he is probably planning a meeting with five-star boss di Maio today. In addition to the option of new elections in autumn, a replacement of Contes as head of government and Finance Minister Tria could also be discussed. The current dispute was triggered by reports of alleged party donations from Russia, which the Lega is said to have received. The government in Rome does not speak with one voice on European policy either. While members of the five-star movement (M5S) have voted for the candidate for the post of President of the European Commission, von der Leyen, according to their own…

Italy: Salvini, tipping the scales at the ballot box

Italy is currently in the hot phase of the election campaign, and the outcome of the 4th March vote could hardly be more closely contested. It is true that the opinion polls see the centre-right alliance spearheaded by Forza Italia (FI) and Lega Nord (LN) out in front, but this alliance could fail to secure an absolute majority and would then have to look around for coalition partners. What is more, the alliance between the parties on the right is by no means as stable as the party bigwigs were claiming it to be when they initially joined forces. Where Forza Italia is mainly attempting to give the impression of being reliable and representing the state, Lega Nord is endeavouring to curry support on the right-wing fringe of the spectrum, presenting itself as a classic right-wing-populist grouping. For example, LN President Salvini has repeatedly flirted with the idea of Italy…

Consequences of the new electoral law in Italy: a Roman three-way fight

On the basis of the new electoral law in Italy, 64% of seats will be elected via proportional representation and the remaining 36% on a first-past-the-post basis. The option allowing parties to form electoral alliances is new. Where the populist M5S grouping has declared that it is unwilling to enter an electoral alliance with any other entity, the other parties are already busy forging new coalitions. Forza Italia (centre-right) and the Lega Nord (right-wing populist), which may well pool their resources in a right-wing alliance, will probably benefit even more from the new electoral law than the PD, which could make common cause with other left-wing parties. None of these alliances – which could each pick up around 30% of total votes cast – currently has a realistic chance of obtaining an absolute majority of seats at next year’s parliamentary election. But forming coalitions will probably prove anything but easy….