Italian Elections: Still too close to call.

With respect to the Italian elections, there’s still only one thing certain – it’s going to be a long night, and, possibly, not the last one. There have apparently been, if my rudimentary understanding of Italian news broadcaster Rai News 24 is correct, unjustified delays in data processing. Thus, given the closeness of the race between the center-left and center-right coalitions, Italian expatriats may be the ones who cast the decisive votes for both lower and upper chambers of the Italian Parliament, since a law, introduced in 2001 formed four “overseas constituencies.” They will, accordingly, choose 12 of the 630 MPS in the lower, and six of the the 315 senators in the upper house.

So, instead of news, just some more context. At wwitv.com you can find a whole page full of web streams provided by Italian tv stations. Electionresources.com features a long explanation of the Italian electoral systems, both old and new. As the author, Manuel Álvarez-Rivera explains, the system has been altered in numerous ways for this election –

It is widely anticipated that in the event of an Unione victory under the new PR systems, the resulting center-left majorities in both houses of Parliament would be considerably smaller than under the previous systems, and the leader of the Unione, former Prime Minister (and former President of the European Commission) Romano Prodi has promised to undo the changes if the center-left returns to power in this year’s elections.

Finally, here’s the google-translated election website provided by Italy’s interior ministery, which, hopefully, is, where you can find the eventual election results as soon as they are released officially.

Italian Elections: Still too close to call.

UPDATE below the fold.

With respect to the Italian elections, there’s still only one thing certain – it’s going to be a long night, and, possibly, not the last one. There have apparently been, if my rudimentary understanding of Italian news broadcaster Rai News 24 is correct, unjustified delays in data processing. Thus, given the closeness of the race between the center-left and center-right coalitions, Italian expatriats may be the ones who cast the decisive votes for both lower and upper chambers of the Italian Parliament, since a law, introduced in 2001 formed four “overseas constituencies.” They will, accordingly, choose 12 of the 630 MPS in the lower, and six of the the 315 senators in the upper house.

So, instead of news, just some more context. At wwitv.com you can find a whole page full of web streams provided by Italian tv stations. Electionresources.com features a long explanation of the Italian electoral systems, both old and new. As the author, Manuel Álvarez-Rivera explains, the system has been altered in numerous ways for this election –

It is widely anticipated that in the event of an Unione victory under the new PR systems, the resulting center-left majorities in both houses of Parliament would be considerably smaller than under the previous systems, and the leader of the Unione, former Prime Minister (and former President of the European Commission) Romano Prodi has promised to undo the changes if the center-left returns to power in this year’s elections.

Finally, here’s the google-translated election website provided by Italy’s interior ministery, which, hopefully, is, where you can find the eventual election results as soon as they are released officially.
(more…)

17 thoughts on “Italian Elections: Still too close to call.

  1. Final info: the center-left won one house (Camera)
    The center-right is ahead by one in the Senate, but there are 6 seats to be assigned based on the votes of the Italians living abroad, not yet available.

  2. “Final info: the center-left won one house…….”

    Yep, this seems to be the current state of play. The margin for the lower house was incredibly small (with 49.8 percent of the vote for Prodi compared to 49.7 for Berlusconi), although there will be a workable majority since the winner utomatically gets awarded 55% of the seats, and again, as Tobias indicates, we may get to a recount.

    Then there is the Senate. At present Berlusconi has a one seat lead, but there are still six ‘overseas vote’ seats to be decided.

    This leaves me with two questions.

    In the first place does anyone have any idea about the overseas vote? Funnily enough this is in some ways a repeat of the recent Galician elections here in Spain. PP leader Manuel Fraga had normally secured his Presidency on the basis of the overseas vote from Latin America, but this time his opponents had done their legwork abroad, and he was actually ousted by a coalition of socialists and nationalists. What information do we have about this situation for Italy, and where are these people (Argentina?)?

    Secondly, since both camps are extremely broad coalitions, what opportunities are there for small party defections near the centre? This would be the logical way out, with defections and pacts enabling the party which gains the lower house to also have a majority in the Senate, but is this doable in Italy?

    Given the gravity of the economic situation none of this augurs well. What Italy probably needs right now is the maximum unity for a difficult reform agenda, not a large bout of squabbling.

  3. – I would bet that the ‘vote overseas’ will go to the right, but some rumors yesterday were suggesting just the opposite.
    – IMO the recount is a certainty rather than a possibility
    – As to what will happen next, frankly I have no clue. Early this morning Prodi spoke as if he won both houses, but the fact is that he’ll have to convince senators from the right to move to the left, there is no way out.
    The alternative is an odd alliance between the most similar parts of the two wings (Governo di centro).
    Either way, IMO no one will have the strength to carry out the political agenda Italy would need.
    To make things more complicated, the PM is going to be appointed by the President of the Republic, whose mandate expires in one month.
    As you probably now, the President of the Republic is elected by the Houses.
    With a strong winner, the President might have no problem in appointing a PM, but with such a small difference he might consider appropriatate that the PM is going to be appointed by the next President.
    So, chances are that the first act of the houses will be the election for President of the Republic, who will then appoint the PM.
    In such a scenario, it is easy to imagine how tough the competition will be to elect the ‘right’ President.
    The left, having more MPs (regardless of what happens with the ‘vote overseas’), starts this race ahead.

  4. The likely distribution of the “italians abroad” seats is: Center-left 4, Center-right 1, Independents (Italians in Argentina, probably leaning right) 1.
    This would mean that the Senate composition is: Center-left 158, Center-right+ind. 157.
    What a night..

  5. Does this mean that the current president cannot order new elections? Also, what about the regional delegates?

  6. >Does this mean that the current president >cannot order new elections?
    perhaps he technically could, but IMO he actually won’t.

    >Also, what about the regional delegates?
    Sorry, I do not understand the question.
    What regions are you referring to ?

  7. This would mean that the Senate composition is: Center-left 158, Center-right+ind. 157.

    Does this mean that any government would have to depend on the appointed senators? How does this affect legitimacy?

  8. Sorry, Oliver, I did not understand that you were talking about the Presidential election.
    yes, the delegates are there and they will shift the balance even more in favour of the left, as the left rules in 19 out of 21 regions.
    However, now that the left is confirmed to have the majority in both houses, Ciampi will IMO appoint Prodi as PM.
    Even if I voted for the center-left, Prodi seemed to me way too triumphalistic this morning at 3 am.
    He knows very well that he’s going to have plenty of troubles from now on and that, regardless of the outcome, this is going to be the last act of his political career.

  9. Seems to be going firm for Prodi now.

    And Bernardo Provenzano has been arrested. These two facts are of course entirely unconnected.

  10. The lead in the Senate is too small to try anything meaningful.
    I’d be very happy to be wrong, but I am afraid the government is going to spend most of the time trying to convince/please too many tiny parties.
    Forget about strong reforms until new elections.

  11. “Forget about strong reforms until new elections.”

    Well even then. I’m not convinced that strong reforms are what we are going to see from any quarter. Cut-backs maybe to try and put some order in the deficit.

    Incidentally, Berlusconi seems to be refusing to concede. What are the implications of this?

  12. Berlusconi is actually sending mixed signals, as he’s asking for a votes recount and apparently promoting a ‘Grand coalition’ at the same time.
    I think we might have come to a stage where Berlusconi’s personal agenda does not mechanically translate into the acts of the italian center-right. The two things have been strictly coupled in the last 5 years, but that might not be true anymore.
    Going back to your question, IMO Berlusconi’s refusal to concede plus the need to wait for the new President of the Republic (according to the very last rumors Ciampi is unwilling to appoint Prodi just before leaving the office) do imply that it is unlikely to have Prodi appointed before mid June.

  13. I think we might have come to a stage where Berlusconi’s personal agenda does not mechanically translate into the acts of the italian center-right.

    Are you saying he might deal parliamentary immunity against going into opposition?

  14. Oliver, that I don’t know.
    What I was saying is that Berlusconi is unlikely to remain the (undiscussed) leader of the center-right. His leadership is going to be challenged by his allies, Fini and Casini in particular, that won’t be prone to his will as they have been in the past.
    For instance, some politicians in the center-right are explicitely saying *now* that, since Prodi’s government is going to have a short life and new elections are likely to happen relatively soon, the center-right has to start looking for a new leader.

  15. Can there be an anti-Berlusconi coalition without Berlusconi? Does this mean a return to a many party system?

  16. In my opinion the future of Berlusconi will not affect so dramatically the geometry of italian politics.
    I rather think that italian politics will benefit from Berlusconi losing a leading political role, as we’ll see the end of the exhausting fight between ‘Berlusconi lovers’ and ‘Berlusconi haters’ that Berlusconi himself promoted for the last 10 years and that was unfortunately the main topic of the italian political discussion for way too much time.

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