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Italian elections 2013

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euronews special coverage

After a year of technocratic government that followed two decades of Silvio Berlusconi’ s on-off premiership, Italians are returning to the polls. And the result will be followed intensely by concerned minds in Brussels, as it is bound to have significant repercussions in the context of an on-going economic crisis that is crushing growth, freezing the labour market and eating into household savings, the only real "social safety net" for the younger generation.

In euronews' special coverage find out what's at stake in this election, what's broken and needs to be fixed in Italy, who the main contenders are, what they're promising and- most importantly- meet the Italian citizens who will decide who wins.

Italy prepares for a coalition of enemies

The results of the Italian general election are threefold, political gridlock, market jitters and a slap in the face for European austerity.

The numbers mean that the country faces stalemate in the coming weeks as former foes try to put hostilities to bed in order to govern a country in difficulty.

The poll has seen another political resurrection of Silvio Berlusconi, who has indicated that his centre-right group may be willing to enter into a grand coalition with Pier Luigi Bersani. Bersani’s centre-left bloc won 340 seats in the lower house compared to Berlusconi’s 124.

The biggest gains go to the Five Star Movement of Beppe Grillo, which claimed 108 seats in the house. Former prime minister Mario Monti picked up a miserable 45 seats.

It is in the upper house, the Senate, where the problems reside. Berlusconi’s group just pipped Bersani by three seats with Grillo once again making headlines by winning a whopping 54 seats.

The Senate is where coalitions need to be forged as any administration trusted to run the country will need a working majority in both houses to pass legislation.

Once again it is a thumbs down for Monti, the EU’s preferred choice, with 18 Senate seats.

James Walston, Professor of Political Science, at the American University in Rome, concluded: “This is a limited disaster because something will happen. They have to. They – President Napolitano and the people who have won or almost won – they are going to have to come to some sort of deal. But it is going to be a very painful few months, certainly until there is some sort of stability, assuming that stability arrives.”

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Results in the two parliamentary chambers

26/02/13
Italy elections results

Elections 2013, all the info:

» 1) When?

On Sunday 24 and Monday 25 February Italy is holding elections for a new parliament and the three regional councils of Lombardy, Lazio and Molise. The opening of the polls is on Sunday 24 from 08:00 to 22:00 CET, and on Monday 25 from 07:00 to 15:00. The result for the Chamber and Senate, the two houses of parliament, is expected soon after the polls closed on Monday 25, while the count for Regional vote is expected on Tuesday, February 26.

» 2) Who can vote?

For the election of the Lower Chamber of parliament (and the three regional consultations) Italian citizens who turned 18 on or before February 24, 2013 may vote; for the election of the Senate, voters must have reached 25 years of age by February 24. Voters must present themselves at the polling reference equipped with an electoral certificate and a valid ID. The electoral offices of each municipality are open for the duration of the elections in case of loss or renewal of their ballot.

» 3) How do you vote?

For the Lower Chamber (pink card) and the Senate (yellow card). A voter will have one ballot for the Chamber (pink) and one for the Senate (yellow). For both cards, the voter shall express the vote by drawing a single sign inside the rectangle that contains the mark of the list of candidates chosen by him. Voters can not express their preference for candidates, whose names have already been presented in a fixed order. The party list system effectively favours the coalition of which the list belongs.

» 4) The electoral system, how does it work?

The system provides threshold barriers to access both the Lower Chamber and the Senate. But the real crux of the law is the size of the majority achieved by the winning coalition, a prize that is awarded in different ways in both houses of parliament.

» 5) What is the distribution of the 315 seats in the Senate?

The key to the outcome of the election is tied to the Senate. For the Senate, the current law provides for a proportional distribution of seats among Italy’s 20 regions (more populous regions are allocated more seats), plus a premium for the list (or coalition) that obtains the majority in each region. The list (or coalition) that has a majority within each region is assigned at least 55 per cent of the total seats allocated to that territory.

» 6) Chamber and Senate: who gets the majority premium?

In the Lower Chamber, a party that is not part of a coalition must attain a threshold of 4% of the national vote to enter parliament, while for parties in a coalition the threshold is 10%. If a coalitions wins a majority it is automatically given at least 340 of the 617 seats. In the Senate the threshold barrier for a non-coalesced party is 8%, and 20% for coalitions. Within the coalition, the votes shall be distributed among the parties having reached at least 3% of the vote.

» 7) What are the key regions?

Certain regions are decisive for a majority in the Senate, and they are considered to be in the balance: Lombardy (assigned 49 seats in the Senate), Veneto (24), Campania (29) and Sicily (25). According to projections by the centre-left, in order to obtain an absolute majority in both houses of Parliament, it can afford to lose in the Veneto region, but should prevail in all the other three regions mentioned above.

» 8) What is the traditional abstention rate?

From 2004 to 2013 the number of people who, according to Eurispes, claim to 'always' vote has gradually decreased, reaching its all-time low in 2013: down by more than 7 percentage points, "less than 77% of respondents, in fact, declare to vote always "

» 9) What about voting abroad?

The Overseas Constituency is divided into six areas (Europe, including the Asian territories of the Russian Federation and Turkey; South America; North and Central America; Africa; Asia; Oceania and Antarctica) and at least one Senator and one Member of the Chamber is elected for each, while the other two seats in the Senate and eight for the Chamber are distributed in proportion to the number of citizens who reside there.

Major Candidates

  • Mario Monti

    Mario Monti was born in Varese on March 19, 1943. He graduated in 1965 in Economics at the Bocconi University of Milan. In 1969, at just 26 years old, he became a professor at the University of Trento; 16 years later he was appointed Professor of Economics at the Bocconi University in Milan, where he became director of the Institute of Economics.

    He spent nearly a decade (1995-2004) as a European Commissioner, responsible first for Internal Market, Services, Customs and Taxation then for Competition. In addition to numerous managerial positions in private companies (Fiat, General, BCI), Monti has held leading roles in several government and parliamentary committees. In 1999 he entered the centre-left government, and between 2005 and 2011 became International Advisor to Goldman Sachs. On November 9, 2011 he was appointed senator for life by President Giorgio Napolitano. On November 13, 2011 following the resignation of Silvio Berlusconi, he was tasked by Napolitano with forming a new government.

  • Silvio Berlusconi

    Silvio Berlusconi was born in Milan on September 29, 1936. He started his business career in construction, but soon expanded to the telecommunications sector (Mediaset), publishing (Mondadori), finance (Mediolanum) and sports (AC Milan) , setting up a business empire controlled by the family company, Fininvest.

    In 1993 he launched the centre-right political movement ‘Forza Italia’, which merged in 2008 with Popolo della Libertà. He has been prime minister four times; his last tenure began in 2008 and ended in 2011 following international and domestic pressure on him to step down amid corruption trials, sex scandals, political divisions and indecision in the face of economic and financial crisis. This ushered in a period of technocratic government, led by Mario Monti.

    According to American magazine Forbes, with a personal fortune estimated at 5.9 billion US dollars, in 2012 Berlusconi was the sixth richest man in Italy and 169th richest person in the world.

  • Pier Luigi Bersani

    Pierluigi Bersani was born in Bettola, in the province of Piacenza, on September 29, 1951. After graduating in philosophy and a brief stint as a teacher, he devoted himself full-time to political activity.

    Elected regional councillor in Emilia Romagna in the ranks of the Italian Communist Party in 1993, he was then President of the Region of Emilia-Romagna and re-elected in 1995. He resigned a year later to become a member of the Prodi government as Minister of Industry, and later Minister of Transport and Navigation. In 2001 he was elected to the Chamber of Deputies for the first time, and became a member of the National Secretariat of the DS and appointed Treasurer of the party.

    After a brief period in the European Parliament, in 2006 he was appointed Minister of Economic Development in the second Prodi government and launched the controversial package on liberalisation. Among the protagonists of the birth of the Partito Democratico (Democratic Party), in December 2012 - at the party primary ballot - he was chosen by 60% of voters as candidate to run for prime minister.

  • Beppe Grillo

    Giuseppe Piero Grillo (Beppe Grillo) was born in Genoa on July 21, 1948. He is primarily known as a comedian, media personality and politician. During the 1980s, his biting and outspoken political satire earned him a ban from Rai television in 1986; he accused Bettino Craxi’s Socialists of being thieves. He continued to work in theatre and in the 90s organized debates on the banking system and the environment.

    In 2005 he launched a blog which became one of the most popular in the country. In 2007 he proclaimed "V Day” (Vaffa day, or ‘Fuck You day’) in Bologna (Piazza Maggiore) as part of a campaign against the so-called “old italian politics”, an event that drew thousands of supporters. In 2009 he launched the "5 Star Movement " in the Emerald Theatre (Teatro Smeraldo) in Milan, which ran in the administrative elections of 2010, 2011 and 2012, with ever more consistent results.

  • Roberto Maroni

    He was born in Varese in 1955 and began his political career as a Marxist-Leninist militant, becoming a member of the extreme left Proletarian Democracy movement until 1979. He was drawn to the Northern league (Lega Nord, then the Lombardi League) after meeting with Umberto Bossi.

    He has been a member of the Lower Chamber of parliament since 1992, and in the same year became the Northern League's first elected mayor in a provincial capital - Varese. In Berlusconi’s governments he was appointed Minister of the Interior and Minister of Labour. In the up-coming election he is a candidate for the presidency of the Lombardia region.

  • Antonio Ingroia

    Antonio Ingroia was born on March 31, 1959 in Palermo. Trained professionally in the Sicilian capital (capoluogo) Palermo, he began his legal career as a judicial auditor, and in 1987 started working with anti-Mafia judges Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino. In 1992 he became a deputy prosecutor in Palermo, becoming the Anti-mafia section Attorney (DDA) in 2009.

    He led, among others, the investigation into Marcello Dell'Utri, a senator and member of Berlusconi’s PDL party and the inquiry into the "negotiation between the State and the Mafia". He has recently stated: "Borsellino was killed because it was considered an obstacle to negotiation… If the massacre of via d'Amelio was not planned, and acted by men of the State, the State was certainly complicit. This I can say I know. "


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