There are already clear winners and losers in the Italian election, despite the uncertainty the country now faces after the projected election results, which indicate that no party or coalition has won the majority needed to form a government. In a nutshell: the Five Star Movement and the League have had excellent elections, while the Democratic Party and Forza Italia have had their worst ones ever.
The two largest parties, in both houses, are likely to be the Five Star Movement and the League. Five Star has consolidated and built on its remarkable 2013 debut. That's not so surprising, but it's worth remembering that plenty of pundits in Italy and elsewhere were proclaiming the Five-Star bubble had burst whenever it did badly in local elections since then. It hasn't. And that’s despite it having had fairly troubled experiences running a handful of cities, especially Rome.
While Five Star is the number one party, the biggest “winner” for me in this election is the League. What the party’s leader Matteo Salvini has done since taking over in late 2013 is remarkable. From four percent in the February 2013 election, and commentators - yet again - writing the party off as finished, Salvini has taken it to its best ever result in a national election, at around 18 percent.
It shows, again, that parties like Danish People's Party, Front National and the League can not only survive the passing of charismatic founder-leaders, but thrive. These are not parties (like Forza Italia, we presume) whose existence and success depends on the founder-leader.
Which brings us to one of the night’s losers, Berlusconi: for the first time ever, he has not been able to gain significantly from start to end of campaign. Forza Italia’s result itself is bad, but losing the primacy within the Right to the League is worse. Berlusconi is reduced from being the main person on the Right over 25 years to being the glue that holds the coalition together. His political demise has been proclaimed many times over the past two decades, but this really is a massive blow.
The biggest “losers” however are the Democratic Party and its leader, Matteo Renzi. This is probably not so surprising either: on the one hand, centre-left parties across Europe are losing votes and seem to be in a permanent identity crisis; on the other, the Italian centre-left, yet again, has been beset by infighting.