Italian Elections

Well it’s not official yet, but the first exit poll has Berlusconi trailing:

An exit poll Monday showed conservative Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi trailing center-left challenger Romano Prodi in parliamentary elections. The Nexus poll indicated that Prodi’s coalition received between 50 and 54 percent of the vote in both the upper and lower chambers of parliament, while Berlusconi’s coalition received 45-49 percent.

Obviously this is the ‘early days’ stage, and we shouldn’t jump to conclusions. I will be updating as the day (or night) wears on.

Update I: It’s looking firmer for Prodi. More exit polls are coming up with similar results. For example the Piepoli Institute’s exit polls for Sky TG24 have given the Prodi coalition 52 percent to 47 percent for Berlusconi’s centre-right and for both houses.

Update II. Tobias has now posted more extensively. First thing Tuesday morning the outcome is still in doubt, and those who were sceptical about the early exit polls were right to be so. Prodi is now claiming victory, but this is being challenged vigorously by the Berlusconi camp. The margin is wafer thin for the lower house (the Chamber of Deputies, or ‘Camera’), with Prodi’s having 49.80 per cent of the vote as compared to 49.73 per cent for Berlusconi’s House of Freedoms (a difference of a mere 25,000 votes). Naturally calls for a recount abound. The position of the Senate is still in doubt. There is currently a one seat difference between the camps (in favour of Berlusconi) but six more seats based on overseas votes are still to be allocated.

Wikipedia have a substantial entry on the elections themselves, and another on the Italian parliament, which may prove useful in understanding things if the final out come is ultimately a ‘hung’ parliament.

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Edward 'the bonobo is a Catalan economist of British extraction. After being born, brought-up and educated in the United Kingdom, Edward subsequently settled in Barcelona where he has now lived for over 15 years. As a consequence Edward considers himself to be "Catalan by adoption". He has also to some extent been "adopted by Catalonia", since throughout the current economic crisis he has been a constant voice on TV, radio and in the press arguing in favor of the need for some kind of internal devaluation if Spain wants to stay inside the Euro. By inclination he is a macro economist, but his obsession with trying to understand the economic impact of demographic changes has often taken him far from home, off and away from the more tranquil and placid pastures of the dismal science, into the bracken and thicket of demography, anthropology, biology, sociology and systems theory. All of which has lead him to ask himself whether Thomas Wolfe was not in fact right when he asserted that the fact of the matter is "you can never go home again".

13 thoughts on “Italian Elections

  1. Hold on, these were exit polls.
    The first ‘real’ data are showing a much smaller margin for the center-left: the first projections for the Senato suggest that the center-left is ahead by 1% only.
    For the ‘Camera’ (the second chamber) the margin of the center left is larger.
    Please bear in mind that in Italy we have a very recent and complex electoral law and it’s actually very difficult to predict at this stage who will have more senators.
    We might even end up with the worst possible solution, where there is no real winner (nor loser).
    I’ll give you more data as they will come.

  2. Very last new (19:15): at this stage Berlusconi would have less votes at the Senate but five more senators (!) than the center-left.

  3. Thanks for this Marco, it’s still far from clear. AFP have just run this (21:00):

    First partial results announced in the early evening, based on one-sixth of the vote for the lower house Chamber of Deputies, gave 54.2 percent to Prodi’s centre-left and 45.2 percent to Berlusconi’s House of Freedoms. The race for the Senate seemed much closer however, with the centre-left holding a wafer-thin majority, again according to partial results based on around half the vote. It showed Prodi’s bloc with 158 seats and Berlusconi’s with 151 in the 315-seat upper house. However, the results did not include the six Senate seats reserved for representatives of some three million Italians living abroad, who were able to vote in a general election for the first time. Neither coalition would be able to govern without a majority in both houses.

    I guess we still have to watchg and wait.

  4. Berlusconi seems ahead in the race for the senate now. Lower house is still for the centre-left but it is going to be close. Wasn´t there a discussion about a new election if there was no clear winner?

    Once again an important lessons why one shouldn´t put too much faith in polls, the reason: “polls don´t vote, people do”.

  5. The latest report from the BBC says Berlusconi is ahead:

    “Italy’s general election is turning into an extremely close race, with early results pointing to a slender lead for PM Silvio Berlusconi.”
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/4894584.stm

    If so, Tony Blair will be much relieved according to this in The Independent:

    “If Mr Berlusconi, Tony Blair’s closest European ally, goes down, then a large metal door could also be clanging behind his erstwhile associate, David Mills, estranged husband of the Culture Secretary, Tessa Jowell. The pair are accused of conspiring to obstruct the course of justice at a trial which has its first hearing next month.”
    http://news.independent.co.uk/europe/article356694.ece

  6. Update 23:20
    Senate: Berlusconi seems ahead by 7 senators (158-151)
    Camera: *very* close call (.1% difference) Please note that for the Camera there is a ‘majority prize’ mechanism, i.e. by getting even one vote more than the opponent one gets a significantly different number of MPs.
    As a consequence, we have to wait ’till the end.

  7. Looking like the worst-case scenario now: both houses within +-1% or less. Pretty obvious that he’ll bring troops out or interfere with the count.

  8. If I read my Italian constitution correctly, the government has to be approved by both houses. What happens if, as seems more and more likely, Berlusconi wins the Senate and Prodi the House? Are we going to have another election in a few months?

  9. Yes, the government has to be approved by both houses.
    New elections are possible, but bear in mind that the MPs do not have any formal constrain to stick to their wing. As a consequence, MPs migth be convinced to move from right to left (or the other way around), or they can even decide to try a completely new set-up where the Prime Minister is neither Prodi nor Berlusconi.
    To make a long story short, the situation can unfortunately end up with a complete mess.
    I voted for center-left, but I’d rather prefer a (close) win by the center-right than a complete halt of the Italian politics (that would be the effect of a ‘draw’)

  10. Marco : “they can even decide to try a completely new set-up where the Prime Minister is neither Prodi nor Berlusconi.”

    Yeah, I was thinking about something like that. Could a center party like the UDC try to play kingmaker in case the houses are divided?

    I must also add that I was wrong to say that a Unione victory in the Camera looks “more and more likely”. I thought the latest numbers were forecasts. In fact, they are partial results. Still seems too close to call, then, maybe with a slight advantage to Berlusconi.

  11. Emmanuel, UDC (and Udeur, a tiny party of the center-left) would be the perfect candidate(s) for such a job.
    Having said that, differences are so small that *no option can be ruled out yet* in terms of who will have the majority in the two houses.
    At this moment, it *can* end up with 2-0 for either of the wings, but also 1-1.
    What is sure IMO is that the government (any government) will have a very hard life.

  12. Pretty obvious that he’ll bring troops out or interfere with the count.

    Please. You are talking about a nasty man. He’ll use lawyers.

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