Introduction and elections’results:
On March 4th, 2018, Italy held elections for its 18th legislature after former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi resigned on the 7th of December 2016 and was temporarily replaced by Paolo Gentiloni. Since the Constitutional reform proposed by Renzi was harshly rejected by Italians on the December 4th referendum, opposition parties have grown stronger and gathered favours, trying to take their chance to get a majority; the biggest two of them, M5S (Movimento 5 Stelle) and Lega, led by Luigi Di Maio and Matteo Salvini, are populist – among their conservative policies, they wish to exit the EU -, although they tried to appear as a new force of political change and fiercely criticized corruption and errors of Renzi’s party, PD (Partito Democratico).
While Salvini has formed an alliance with two other right-wing parties, FI (Forza Italia) led by Silvio Berlusconi and Fratelli d’Italia led by Giorgia Meloni, M5S continues on alone, as its leaders have always blamed all other parties for Italy’s current critical situation. Meanwhile, the left has not been able to stay united and remain strong and PD itself has lost some members, who split into minor parties (some of these eventually reunited with PD, but the party is certainly far weaker than before).
The two main populist parties, M5S and Lega
The elections turned out remarkably well for the populists: M5S is the first party with 32.6% of votes, but the right parties’ alliance gathered 37% and Lega alone has 17.3%. PD got only 18.7%, about 14% less than the previous election, and the other small left parties won about 2%-3% of votes. Luckily, a bunch of neo-fascist groups got less than 1%, not even managing to enter Parliament (the minimum needed is 3%). Another dark side of this last election day is the rate of abstention, which was about 27%, the highest rate in the Italian Republic history.
From left to right: Matteo Renzi, Silvio Berlusconi, Luigi Di Maio, Matteo Salvini
Our opinion about political forces:
We think that politics is the attempt to mediate between Sancho Panza and Don Chisciotte, between the practical world and the hyperuranic, ideal one. To do this, a ruler has to think, debate, analyze and observe everything, from statistics to philosophy; in this situation we can see an extreme left, one that only lives close to Don Chisciotte, and the other parties that live outside of the political realm.
We have to analyze the party that theoretically is trying to carry on good policy This is PD, the leftist party that came from PCI (Italian Communist Party), and that has a lot of experiences in Parliament and at Palazzo Chigi, that knows how this country works and whose exponents all have a respectable and technical cultural background. This party, however, came in third on 4th March. Why? There are a lot of motivations that start from the natural divisions that are inside of the political left.
The left’s contradictions
The left was born from the proletariat’s need of participating in parliament and obtaining rights, so the choices of this political party came from the majority, from countryside, from people that have more needs than goods and who arrive in the capital to bring the needs of working class to light and fight for them through culture and political capacity. If we analyze our situation, we can see an opposite state. We have a political class that is on the left, a class that lives and talks only with cities and the wealthy part of the population and expects to bring its choices to countryside by the flags of left. To me this is this country’s main problem and the mother of these electoral results. A good ruler has to analyze the needs of the majority and stand up for them, because they don’t know what they really want. The left coalition led by PD, that which picks its (former) secretary Matteo Renzi to be president, won in the most rich and educated parts of the country, like the cities of Rome and Milan. This is the very big problem for the left. For example, the “Buona Scuola”, an educational reform proposed by Renzi, is a good idea becauseit gives the possibility to students to reach jobs and live it and so take the better university for each of them. However, it will ultimately only benefit people who have time in their lives and who live in cities that offer a lot of opportunities It’s worth noting that only the schools that are in a comfortable situation can spend time and resources to organize good Buona Scuola projects for their students. This is a simple example of an enormous problem; PD and other similar parties live in an ivory tower. They live closed in their quarters and in their little elitè, never talking with real people, only with “gentlemen”; they forget the rest of Italy. This is an enormous contradiction: how is it possible that a liberal party forgot the people, if left is the alleged “party of the people” in parliament?
The main left parties: PD, +Europa and LeU (Liberi e Uguali)
We need a change in our political class, we need someone who doesn’t come from the elites, who can talk with the people and become the flag of their needs. Who has these characteristics? M5S and Di Maio, the new party, are not in the scheme and come from common people. We can see that the solution is to give this movement the chance to change this country. In south of Italy they chose someone who can represent them in parliament – no one has really ever done this.
Potentia sapientia est (“to know is to be capable”)
There is only one problem: if you want to do something you have to have the know-how, and politics is no exception. A good ruler must know politics, history, economy, statistics, philosophy, et cetera, and must understand how Montecitorio and its system works. Di Maio doesn’t have this knowledge and so he is the most vulnerable. Even if he were a genius, he would not be able to do things on his own. He needs experts who have the know-how to run a country which is going through a very difficult historical, cultural and economic moment. Instead, M5S keeps believing their “honesty” can be enough to govern. Even if they’re good, purposes are still only purposes: politicians need facts.
Is this democracy?
The clear demonstration of his incapability to govern is the way they want to organize the government power, they keep insisting that they don’t want to give space to another party because they want to create (perhaps this isn’t the word you were looking for?) that flexible program. It’s absurd in politics. Politics is talk, it is the capability to find the better solution, the better compromise. This is democracy. Only in an absolute monarchy is possible to follow a unique program without listening to anyone else. It is not politics, because they are not rulers. History demonstrates that power, in a lot of cases, destroys all links and bridges with people and so we have a fear, what will happen to M5S now that they have power? For answer we have to think that they differently from PD don’t have culture and experience, so they will be absolutely lost.
Since no party has a majority strong enough to make a government, the three biggest political forces – M5S, PD, and the alliance of the right – have to find an agreement in order to give stability to the government and to avoid the risk of voting again in a few months. The only party that’s almost sure of governing is M5S, but they’ll have to form an alliance with one of the other groups; though Di Maio has declared himself ready to have a dialogue with any politician and party, both PD and Lega are big rivals of M5S and seem very reluctant to become his allies. The right coalition is practically sure they won’t end up being at opposition as they got the largest percentage of the votes. In terms of the left, Renzi has just resigned from his role of party secretary but says that PD will be at opposition during this legislature. Either M5S or the right wing alliance may try governing alone, but each of them would find the other and PD at opposition, making it hardly impossible to reach stability. On the other hand, repeating elections in a short time wouldn’t significantly change results, and PD could do even worse leaving total victory to populism.
Sergio Mattarella, President of Italian Republic, will have to officially nominate the Prime Minister
Italian voting society:
Italians who have voted are a population culturally getting worse, with little trust in culture, education, and politics, prone to mindlessly believe in politicians’ promises, and man-in-the-street and populist movements. Election campaigns were based on themes that people consider as important, above all work and occupation, immigration issues, and political and economic relationship with EU. Most of the parties have made lots of election promises just to gather consensus, as Salvini proposes to stop immigration, M5S makes absurd plans to help workers keep their jobs, and both parties would leave the EU. The alarming fact is that populists always propose quick, easy solutions to any problem without considering long-term consequences, and people simply believe them. Italians lack a political consciousness, are not willing to inform about politics – many have simply stopped caring about that. These politically disappointed people are the main target of M5S election campaign because this movement wants to appear as a change and an alternative to a corrupted political class (most of their campaign actually consisted of blaming all the other parties for being responsible of current crisis and issues); meanwhile, teens who started voting in 2018 at the age of 18 (the Italian age of majority) or 19 tend to be easily influenced by right-oriented, sometimes neo-fascist, ideas – the fact some of them see fascism as “cool” is direct proof that educational system is failing. This happens because fascist movements are among the people and people feel them close. The parties are only in institutions and buildings of the power, a true political group has to stay in both places.
Besides education, Italians mostly lack both political consciousness and an ideological identity, and this is favored by the political class, who doesn’t represent people. The general feeling is that everyone is tired of politics and not many people have had a clear idea whom to vote or how to consider election promises. Thus it’s not that strange that many chose not to vote.
Likely relationship with EU:
During their election campaign, PD used the strong slogan “vote Europe, vote PD”, and Emma Bonino’s party was called +Europa, but unfortunately people voted against EU; Italy voted for parties that promote “Itexit”, especially Lega, M5S. Salvini himself has resigned from his role in Europarliament (where he had only a 2% attendance rate). If these parties see EU and strangers as a menace, they’ll most likely try carrying out a racist an isolationist politics, and “Itexit” would be almost certain if a M5S-Lega alliance gains enough power.
Italy is slowly recovering from a crisis; employment rates s are growing, but this still remains a soft spot in European economic balance. Another state leaving the EU could be a very hard hit to the face for Euroland; for this reason we can expect that the EU itself will deal with our politicians and try not to lose Italy as well.
Of course we hope Italy will stay in Europe and in the EU, because together we are stronger. Hopefully populism, fear, and ignorance will not prevail over good politics and convenient choices;EU is a better choice than isolationism.
Mario Edoardo Simmaco