News Europe Polling stations open in Italy

Polling stations open in Italy

Ballots for the elections in Italy – MAURO SCROBOGNA / ZUMA PRESS / CONTACTOPHOTO

The polling stations have opened this Sunday at seven in the morning in Italy in early elections in which 50 million people are called to participate and which will put an end to the stage of the technocrat Mario Draghi as prime minister.

The Italians will have to draw a single cross for each of the two ballots – a pink one for the Chamber of Deputies and a yellow one for the Senate – which will be delivered today at the polling stations to each voter until eleven o’clock at night, according to the newspaper ‘Corriere della Sera’.

In these elections, in which the right-wing bloc, led by the far-right Giorgia Meloni, is emerging as the favorite, about 4.7 million people will have to vote from abroad, Europe being the continent with the most Italians.

“Today you can help write history,” Meloni wrote on her official Twitter profile. The leader of the Brothers of Italy, a formation that emerged as a split from the center-right of Silvio Berlusconi and that in just ten years has gone from being a nationalist, ultra-conservative and anti-European anecdote to positioning itself as a favorite, with a voting intention of more than 20 percent.

The leader who in her youth described the dictator Benito Mussolini as “a good politician” is now the greatest exponent of social discontent that has relegated the blocs that had traditionally dominated Italian politics to the background, thanks to which they also achieved important results in the previous elections the 5 Star Movement (M5S) and the League.

In the case of Meloni, she has gained new supporters after partially qualifying some lines of her speech –she is still critical of the EU but is no longer proposing leaving the euro–, but she remains faithful to her messages against immigration or for the traditional family.

In fiscal matters, he proposes a tax cut, within a broader debate in which the right is studying imposing a single rate for all income levels — 15 percent, according to the leader of the League, Matteo Salvini — .

Salvini is the second great protagonist of the right-wing alliance and aspires to enter the Government again, as he did in a previous stage with the M5S in which he served as Minister of the Interior and showed off his doctrine of ‘closed ports’ for migrants trying to reach the Italian shores.

The third party in this right-wing alliance is Berlusconi, who at the head of Forza Italia remains against all odds in the political front line, apparently immune to scandals ranging in recent years from economic crimes to potential abuses in his controversial parties.

Berlusconi, who has traditionally represented the moderate right in Italy, has ended up engulfed by two radical formations and, during the campaign, has been forced to assume that Meloni will have the right to head the next government if, as it seems, his party is the most voted in the elections.

The conservative bloc, which aspires to an absolute majority and even a supermajority, would not have been affected in the campaign by the shadow of the Ukraine war, which has forced the three parties to try to leave behind their usual empathy or even personal closeness with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, and his orbit.

However, they have publicly questioned the sanctions imposed by the EU against Moscow, appealing to the pernicious collateral effects, and the opposition has used the newspaper library to recall the visits of Berlusconi and Putin to the Crimean peninsula or the League’s ties with the official United Russia, among other stories.

Neither the warnings about Russian influence nor the relative warnings towards a potential radical turn in domestic politics have served to configure a true leftist alternative in Italy, despite the efforts of former Prime Minister Enrico Letta to join forces around to the Democratic Party (PD).

The left-wing front has finally been blurred with Green Europe, Italian Left and Civic Commitment -the latter a party created by Luigi di Maio-, and although it aspires to exceed 20 percent of the vote, it might not be enough for Letta to have government options.

Behind are the M5S, led by former Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and who made it clear from the start that he would go it alone, and an ‘ad hoc’ alliance between Matteo Renzi’s Italia Viva and Carlo Calenda’s Accion, which at most they aspire to have something to say in hypothetical post-election negotiations.

Whatever happens, Draghi has already made it clear that he does not want to remain in power. The name of this economist, former head of the European Central Bank (ECB), was the only path of consensus that the Italian president, Sergio Mattarella, found at the beginning of 2021 to prevent Italy from falling over the political abyss.

Draghi considers the task accomplished, especially after the exhaustion that leading a survival cabinet with an amalgamation of parties has caused him, as he made clear in his last press conference. In this appearance, he opted for Europeanism and defended the strength of Italy against any possible “puppet” of external interests.

The electoral ‘ranking’ that emerges after the polls close this Sunday, however, does not have to mean an automatic pact to form a government. Once all the seats have been distributed –by virtue of a system that combines single-member lists and candidates–, it will be up to Mattarella to open a round of contacts in mid-October.

Berlusconi boasts of being the last leader to become prime minister after topping a party’s list in an election, something more than fourteen years have passed. The usual conflict between arithmetic and egos has meant that at this time alternative candidates are sought within the most voted party or independent personalities capable of generating a minimum consensus between formations that, otherwise, would never understand each other.

In fact, the withdrawal of the necessary support for the Draghi government has forced the elections to be brought forward to this September 25. The Constitution establishes that the chambers must be renewed every five years and the last elections were held in 2018.

Some 50 million Italians are called to choose who will occupy 400 seats in the Chamber of Deputies and 200 in the Senate. In both chambers there will now be fewer legislators, in accordance with the provisions of a constitutional reform endorsed in a referendum by the citizens in September 2020.

The schools will remain open from 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., although the final results will not be released until Monday. The polls anticipate a lower turnout than in previous processes, so surprises are not ruled out that may also come depending on the side towards which the undecided at the last minute lean.

Source: Europa Press

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