More than three million Italian electors stayed at home in the regionals. That is eight points lower than five years ago, yet the political damage from the low turnout hasn’t hurt Silvio Berlusconi’s Party of Freedom, or PDL, as much as his rivals.
euronews: The pre-vote polls had predicted heavy damage, so how has Berlusconi pulled off this great escape? He has led the Right to four regions. Is this new, Professor De Mucci?
Raffaele De Mucci: “Until a few years ago there was a sort of relationship, a pretty strong one, between absenteeism and a certain sort of right-wing electorate. Now turnout is low across all the parties, so it’s no longer possible to say a low turnout will hit the Right more, or draw any clear conclusion. This is a mid-term Berlusconi government, and before this election the prime minister said there would be no big changes whatever the outcome. It seems highly unlikely he will change his finance minister Giulio Tremonti, a close ally of the Northern League and seemingly bent on tightening the budget further.”
euronews: However, would you agree the thing that the vote has changed is the balance within the big coalitions that dominate Italian politics?
Raffaele De Mucci: “There has been a reshuffle of power within the big two coalitions, with the Northern League winning two regions on its own, one from Berlusconi’s PDL. It’ll be able to demand more concessions and have more influence in the centre-right.
On the left it’s the same story with Antonio Di Pietro’s Italy of Values now up to seven percent – but it is a weaker influence for sure, and not as easy a fit in the centre-left coalition as you might think. The Italians will have to lie in the bed they’ve made; no new polls for three years, until the next General Election in 2013.”