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    Looming Italexit? Political Scientist Outlines Scenarios of March Italian Vote

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    The March general election in Italy appears to have room for a surprise. Speaking to Sputnik, Daniele Scalea of the Italian-based Machiavelli Center of Political and Strategic Studies discussed the potential risks and possible scenarios of the upcoming vote.

    There is a chance that Italian center-right parties would come to power by winning the majority of seats in the parliament, Daniele Scalea, a political scientist of the Italian-based Machiavelli Center of Political and Strategic Studies, suggested speaking to Sputnik Italia.

    The 2018 Italian general election is due to take place on March 4; however, there is still uncertainly as to who will come out on top.

    According to the political scientist, the upcoming vote is unlikely to put the future of the EU under threat, despite the gloomy prognosis made by Pierre Moscovici, a French politician who is presently serving as the European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs.

    In mid-January the commissioner claimed that the Italian general elections posed a "political risk" for the EU.

    "This is a figure of speech," Scalea said. "Moscovici is not a simple European bureaucrat, he is a politician, a member of the French Socialist Party, and he talks as a politician in the first place. With his warning, Moscovici is trying to influence the choice of Italians in favor of the Democratic Party."

    However, recent polls indicate that the ruling Democratic Party (PD), led by former prime minister Matteo Renzi, has lost much of its support and has about 22-24 percent of potential votes.

    Under the county's new electoral system, named "Rosatellum," any party of coalition will have to win more than 40 percent to get enough seats in the parliament.

    While the center-left Democratic Party's influence is seemingly fading the question arises as to whether the right-wing Eurosceptic parties, for instance, the populist 5-Star Movement (Movimento 5 Stelle), will follow Britain's example if they win the general election.

    According to Scalea, it is hardly probable that the Italian Right will push ahead with "Italexit."

    "All [Italian] parties which are regarded as Eurosceptics, including the 5-Star Movement, are cautiously addressing the issue of the withdrawal from the EU," the political scientist underscored. "Their program envisages the 'EU reform,' not withdrawal from the union. However, the chances for their [5-Star Movement] victory are small. It is unlikely that they will be able to come to power without forming a coalition with the PD, and the Democrats will never agree on Italexit."

    Italy's former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi gestures during the taping of the television talk show Porta a Porta (Door to Door) in Rome, Italy, February 14, 2018
    © REUTERS / Alessandro Bianchi
    Italy's former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi gestures during the taping of the television talk show "Porta a Porta" (Door to Door) in Rome, Italy, February 14, 2018

    The 5-Star Movement has gained 27-29 percent in recent polls. Still, the party vowed not to form any alliance before the elections. For comparison's sake, former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's conservative Go Italy! (Forza Italia) party together with the Northern League (Lega Nord) and the Brothers of Italy has polled about 36 percent.

    Judging from the surveys, observers are expressing concerns that no party would be able to form the government. According to Bloomberg's study, there is a "38 percent probability of a hung parliament," and a "one-in-three chance" that Berlusconi's Forza Italia will form a coalition with the ruling Democratic Party.

    According to Scalea, the Italian right-centrists have a chance to gain victory, "but this is not the most likely outcome of the elections, as they need to work hard and have luck to win."

    "The right-wing parties gained much of their popularity due to their stance on the migration issue, but this topic has been over-discussed in the Italian media in comparison with other issues which triggers deep concerns among the Italians," the political scientist pointed out.

    He added that the Italian Right are not united and while leaders still cannot reach consensus on major issues of their own programs. Furthermore, many of the participants of the potential right-wing coalition are planning to join other parties after parliamentary elections.

    The political scientist voiced his own scenario of how the situation will unfold following the vote.

    "The center-right can come to power with the majority in the parliament, but this coalition will not be stable, especially if the Lega Nord wins more votes than Forza Italia: Berlusconi is unlikely to tolerate the superiority of [Matteo] Salvini [the leader of Lega Nord] and will begin to stir up the situation," presumed.

    There is yet another option, according to the scholar: The Democratic Party, Forza Italia and centrists could form a coalition. "This is Renzi and Berlusconi's longstanding idea," Scalea remarked, adding that as a result this alliance will lead to the creation of an interim government and, most probably, snap elections.

    "The last and the most unlikely option is that the 5-Star Movement will create a coalition with the left," the political scientist concluded.

    According to Reuters, more than a third of voters still remain undecided, which means that the outcome of the vote still can catch many by surprise.

    The views and opinions expressed by Daniele Scalea are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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    Tags:
    right-wing parties, General Election, Election 2018, Democratic Party (DP), Movement 5 stars, Northern League, Forza Italia party, European Union, Silvio Berlusconi, Italy, Europe
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