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Voters in Italy Just Ousted the Establishment

Populist and far-right parties deal a strong blow to the euro zone
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 5, 2018 11:25 AM CST
Italy Just Had a Monumental Election
A man walks past a torn electoral poster reading "Here we make Italy" in Rome on Monday.   (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

(Newser) – Italian voters went to the polls over the weekend and upended the political establishment. The big winners were populist and far-right parties, which received about 55% of the vote in total, though it could take weeks to figure out exactly what kind of coalition will be governing the country. The big losers were pro-EU forces in general and establishment politicians such as Silvio Berlusconi in particular. Details and analysis:

  • A big deal: "This was an anti-establishment triumph of the same magnitude as the Brexit referendum or Donald Trump's US election victory," writes Ferdinando Giugliano at Bloomberg. Next comes a "period of great uncertainty" not only for Italy, but for the entire eurozone.
  • Big winners: The Five Star Movement, founded less than a decade ago by a comedian fed up with the political establishment, got about a third of the vote, per the AP. The League, an anti-immigration party of the center-right, got about 18%. "The buzz in Rome is whether the two parties could team up and form a euroskeptic alliance," writes Giugliano.

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  • Berlusconi flops: He'd been hailed by the EU establishment as "the man to save Italy from populism," writes Lorenzo Marsili at the Guardian. Didn't happen. His Forza Italia party couldn't even beat its junior ally in the center-right, the League. The upshot is that Berlusconi "is no longer indispensable," says an analyst at Rome's LUISS University. Or as the AP puts it: "In essence, what two decades of legal woes and Bunga Bunga parties couldn't achieve, Italy's voters have."
  • Incumbent fizzle: As bad as the center-right did, the center-left did worse. The incumbent Democratic Party, led by Matteo Renzi, had been in power since 2013 but failed to get even 20% of the vote, per Quartz. "The malaise of Italy's Democratic Party mirrors the situations in France, Germany, Spain, and the Netherlands," writes Eshe Nelson. "Each country is a special case, but financial crises and a large influx of refugees has touched every country in the eurozone."
  • Immigration huge: The issue played a big role in the election, given that Italy has seen a huge influx of migrants from Afghanistan, Libya, and Syria. "There is a strong feeling that the mainstream parties have no answer and that Italy got little help from the European Union in Brussels or from other member states," writes Steven Erlanger in the New York Times. Both the Five Star Movement and the League favor tougher rules.
(Read more Italy stories.)

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