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    Migration in Italy is 'Certainly Big Issue and it Favors the Right' - Professor

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    The Italian right-wing coalition led by Silvio Berlusconi is winning public support ahead of the elections. Both the Five Star Movement and center-left Democratic Party tied for second place with 28%. Sputnik discussed this with Roberto D’Alimonte, a professor of political science at the LUISS university in Rome and a top expert in electoral laws.

    Sputnik: What is your opinion on the results of the poll? How predictable is the outcome of the elections?

    Roberto D’Alimonte: I don't entirely trust polls, because simply millions of voters who are going to vote on March 4th, they don't know how they will vote, they will decide at the last minute. This has happened with Brexit, this happened with Trump, this happened in Italy 5 years ago, when a lot of people went to vote for the Five Star Movement and will happen again on March 4th, that's the main reason why polls are unreliable, but they still tell us something.

    Sputnik: Why is the public savoring Silvio Berlusconi and what makes his platform appealing to Italian citizens now?

    Roberto D’Alimonte: In the last 25 years no government in Italy has been re-elected and this is a simple fact. Voters tend to vote against the incumbent government, this has happened with Mr. Prodi, it has happened to Mr. Berlusconi, it seems to be happening with Mr. Gentiloni, there has been constant contemplation  in power, this seems to be today part of Italian politics. Voters banished the incumbent government hoping to get a better deal with the new government. In the case of Mr. Berlusconi, he has remained, because he has developed political skills, he has resources, media resources, financial resources, but with his political skills, he has been consistently able to assemble a coalition of the center-right parties that is competitive, and again it is competitive today, as we see a divided left.

    READ MORE: Berlusconi Reemerges as Man Who Can Lead Italian Gov't – Pollster Cofounder

    Sputnik: What's the reason behind the increased popularity of the right-wing parties in Italy, you've noted a couple of reasons, but how strong is the support for them?

    Roberto D’Alimonte: People are very discontent, migration is certainly a big issue and it favors the right, and unemployment, particularly in the south. Italy is actually two countries, northern Italy is not doing badly, in northern Italy we are running at almost full employment, the real issue is southern Italy, and it's in southern Italy where Mr. Berlusconi with his coalition may win. There are two competing forces in southern Italy, one is Five Star and the other is Berlusconi, and discontent in the issue of migrations are the two forces that are helping, both Five Star and the center-right, particularly, in the south where unemployment is very high, particularly, among young people.

    Sputnik: So what success has the current administration actually overseen with regard to their term in power? Are there any positives that can be taken out of the current administration?

    Roberto D’Alimonte: I think so, even on the issue of migration, the current administration has finally set the foundation of a policy that will produce effect in the medium term, but voters are impatient, they think that the issue of immigration can be resolved with a magic wand, and this is not the case. I believe the current administration is doing something positive, but it will take time to get results. Also, in other areas, I think, the current administration has produced positive effects, but not enough to change the perception that many people, particularly in the south have, that things are not going well, that they are going in the wrong direction. Politics is a matter of perceptions, sometimes fake news.

    Sputnik: You've mentioned earlier on, that Italians still haven't made their mind up, could the situation change in the coming weeks? What is your prediction?

    Roberto D’Alimonte: My prediction is, that there's a 30 percent probability that the center-right will gain an absolute majority, which means that there's a 70 percent chance of no winner, or what the British call a hung parliament, and then anything can happen, because if there's no clear winner, the only clear winner could be the center-right, if there's no center-right victory then we're entering a phase which is going to be quite unstable and possibly chaotic and maybe we're going to see some unconventional compromises, unconventional solutions.

    READ MORE: Anti-Immigration Sentiments Spread Across Italy Ahead of Elections

    Sputnik: If the right-wing party does prevail, how could this change the political,  economic, social situation in Italy? How would relations between Rome and the EU develop?

    Roberto D’Alimonte: Berlusconi has become a great supporter of the European Union and he has convinced Mr. Salvini, the leader of the Lega Nord (Northern League), one of his major allies, to put aside the question of the euro, the possible refrain from the euro, so this coalition that could win, on paper, it won't question Italy belonging to the Eurozone or belonging in the European Union. I say on paper, because, where I do believe that Mr. Berlusconi will not change his mind and will not bring back his core idea of parallel currencies. Mr. Salvini is a question mark, for the time being he has put aside the criticism of the euro and the request for a referendum, but if they start governing, if the Forza Italia, Berlusconi party and Salvini party form a government, we will have to see in practice how the relationship will go.

    The views and opinions expressed by Roberto D’Alimonte do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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