Italians go to the polls on 24-25 February to vote in an early election, which could determine whether Italy heads out of deep recession or drags Europe back into crisis.
The general election was called two months early after Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Freedom party withdrew its support for Prime Minister Mario Monti’s technocrat government. According to the polls, Mr Monti could win if he joined forces with other parties. The centre-left coalition led by former Communist Pier Luigi Bersani’s Democratic Party has consistently led the opinion polls for the lower house vote.
Mr Berlusconi, whose People of Freedom party has been gaining in the polls, has vowed to reverse some of Mr Monti’s unpopular austerity reforms. The scandal-ridden, flamboyant former prime minister has teamed up with the more right-wing Northern League led by Roberto Maroni.
The election’s wild card is the Five Star Movement of comedian and satirist Beppe Grillo which has performed well in some regional polls.
In this edition of The Network our panel of guests discusses the candidates and the challenges in this election, which will be watched closely in Europe and beyond.