Italian election campaign officially opens
30 December 2017
Italian President Sergio Matarella dissolved parliament on Thursday, officially opening the election campaign. The election will take place on March 4.
The decision came as no surprise. When the then Prime Minister Matteo Renzi (PD) resigned a year ago, after losing the constitutional referendum, an election date was already being discussed. Matarella insisted that a new valid electoral law and budget for the coming year be passed beforehand. Both have since happened. The budget was passed by the Senate, the second chamber of parliament, on the Saturday before Christmas.
Nevertheless, the announcement of the election has caused concern in European capitals. “As the EU tries to regain cohesion after the shock of the UK’s Brexit vote and speed up its economic recovery, the looming Italian election arguably represents the biggest political obstacle,” wrote the Financial Times.
The “likely scenarios after the vote” are “a hung parliament, a grand coalition or a populist government with a much more confrontational attitude towards Brussels—including plans to question Italy’s membership of the single currency.” With this, Italy will remain “the weak link” in the European Union.
Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, who, like his predecessor Matteo Renzi and his predecessor before him Enrico Letta, comes from the Democratic Party (PD), tried to spread optimism at his press conference at the end of the year. Italy was doing much better now than at the beginning of the 2013 legislature, he said. The economic situation was pleasing as Italy is “no longer the famous tail light of Europe.”
However, from the viewpoint of the mass of the population, the situation looks completely…