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  March 6, 2018

Italian Government in Chaos as Far-Right Parties Surge

Italy's election on Sunday didn't produce a clear winner, making the task of negotiating a coalition government particularly challenging. Raffaele Laudani, professor at the University of Bologna, discusses possible outcomes
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Raffaele Laudani is professor of history of political thought at the University of Bologna, Italy, and Director of the Academy of Global Humanities and Critical Theory


SHARMINI PERIES: It's The Real News Network. I'm Sharmini Peries coming to you from Baltimore. The Italian elections took place on Sunday. A record number of people showed up at the polls, but no clear winner has yet been declared, resulting in a hung parliament. The Five Star Movement and the League are in a battle to form the government in spite of the fact that neither received a clear majority. Everyone is now waiting for the president, Sergio Mattarella, to make a decision on who, and how, Italy might be governed. The Five Star Movement garnered 32.6% of the vote, and the Centre-Right Alliance, represented by Matteo Salvini, associated with Forza Italia, which is the former Berlusconi coalition, got 35.7% of the vote.

The ruling Democratic Party did not fare well, as Italians had been hard-hit by rising poverty and unemployment, and the anti-immigrant sentiments directed at the current government. Since 2016, Italy has been ruled by a caretaker government, and took over after Prime Minister Matteo Renzi resigned. To discuss the issues surrounding the elections and the lack of a clear winner in this election is Raffaele Laudani. He is professor of History of Political Thought at the University of Bologna, Italy, and director of the Academy of Global Humanities and Critical Theory. Thanks for joining us today, Raffaele.

R. LAUDANI: Thank you for calling me.

SHARMINI PERIES: Raffaele, given that there is no clear leading party that has emerged as a result of these elections, what are the possibilities for governing Italy?

R. LAUDANI: It's very difficult to make a prediction but let's say that for the moment we have four possible scenarios. The first one is an agreement between the centre-right coalition with part of the Democratic Party. This would have been a real possibility, we discussed this argument the last time, if within the rightist coalition Berlusconi was the first party. So if Forza Italia was the first party that would probably been the main possible result. Some kind of German Great Coalition in an Italian way, with the leading of the North League this is more complicated. Okay, so, then we have another possible scenario, which is a coalition between the left part of the Democratic Party and the Five Star Movement. But here again the question depends on what would be the following weeks within the Democratic party because there are some parts of the leading group that would be open to a dialog with the Five Stars. On the contrary, Renzi is totally against it, and actually his main goal at the moment is to prevent the possibility of any form of a government for the moment.

Then we have another possible scenario, which is an agreement between the North League and the Five Stars. Some way they have several points in common. They have a common platform in terms of position against Europe, against immigrants, and they both have a populist platform. And an agreement like this will give them a great majority and this will turn the government on a very rightist position. It is not easy to arrive to this solution. Hopefully I have because of competition between the two leaders, Matteo Salvini for the North League, and Luigi di Maio. They're both aimed at leading the government. So this someway could prevent this combination.

And then we have another possible scenario, which is the possibility of creating a majority, and so going back to elections, let's say in a year or so, with the creation of what we call in Italy "government for a goal." Which means maybe changing the electoral law and then go back to elections.

At the moment it is very difficult to make a prediction. I would say that if within the Democratic Party Renzi will be defeated, then I would bet a dollar on some kind of an agreement, maybe external support of the Democratic Party and the other leftist party to a Five Star Movement government to prevent the possibility of coalition with the North League.

SHARMINI PERIES: All right Raffaele, lots of uncertainty at the moment. I'm sure we'll be back to you to analyze as things unfold. I thank you so much for joining us today.

R. LAUDANI: With pleasure, thanks. Bye-bye.

SHARMINI PERIES: And thank you for joining us here on The Real News Network.


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