Saturday, February 23, 2013

World Elections - Italy

On Monday, Italy goes to the polls to elect a new government. The results for the lower house are all but certain. The Socialist alliance will take exactly 344 seats. We know this, in part, because whichever party wins the most votes, regardless of if it's by 1 vote of 1 million, wins exactly 344 seats in the lower house.

The remainder of the seats will be distributed to the opposition parties. My projection is for the following (lower house)

344 - Socialist
123 - Conservative
84 - Populist
58 - Moderate
16 - Radical

The Conservative alliance is lead by Berlusconi. The alliance has been unable to move much beyond about 28% of the vote, partly due to Berlusconi's seemingly endless scandals. The Populists are not an alliance, but rather, a single party called the 5 Star Movement, or M5S in Italian. I personally am a huge fan of party acronyms with numbers in them, but that won't help them win seats. What will is their appeal to those who are just sick and tired of regular politicians. Despite the polls showing them narrowly ahead of the Moderates, I expect them to win more seats than expected. The Moderates themselves are lead by Monti, the current Prime Minister. This alliance is not as strong as others, and it's member parties mat not follow everything Monti wants. The key to the Moderate strategy is in the Senate, which I will get to shortly. Lastly are the Radicals. Formerly 5 separate far-left parties, they have united into a single party (not just a coalition) to contest this election, and if polls are right, will just edge in past the 4% threshold.

The real race, however, is in the Senate. Like the House, the Senate has a rule that the winner of the election gets 55% of the seats. The key difference is that the Senate, rather than having a single nation-wide riding, has ridings consisting of each province. With the Socialists having strength concentrated in Tuscany and area, this means they are unlikely to win a majority in the Senate. So what will the results be? My expectation is as follows:

145 - Socialist
100 - Conservative
35 - Populist
30 - Moderate
5 - Radical

The Moderates show all signs of being willing to work with the Socialists. It is at this time that I should note Monti is not a member of the lower house, but rather, a Senator. The end result could thus be Monti keeps his job as Prime Minister. The problem is that Monti's member parties may not be willing to allow this.

The last interesting note is that polls are not allowed to be published within the last 2 weeks of the campaign. The polls we have, thus, are old and out of date. This means the last poll was 18 days prior to the vote itself. Comparing this to the 2011 federal election here in Canada, the last poll would have told us the following. NDP at 20%, Liberals at 29%. Thus the final result of the Italian election may surprise everyone.

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