The right-wing bloc of parties won the most votes and seats in the Italian parliamentary elections in both chambers, but fell short of a majority necessary to form a government. The anti-establishment populist party won the most votes and seats of any individual party, while the center-left bloc came in third.
The right-wing bloc is made up of three parties that won seats. The far-right anti-immigrant Northern League, which won the third most votes and seats of any individual party, edged the center-right party of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, which came in fourth. A smaller more conservative party also reached the 3% threshold to win seats, while a bloc of centrists and center-right parties within the right-wing bloc failed to qualify. By agreement among the parties, the League leader would be the bloc’s choice for premier, as the leader of the party that won the most votes within the bloc.
The populists, who argue that they deserve a mandate to try to form a government, refuse to govern with any other party and would only accept into any coalition government they might lead those who accept their platform. The ruling center-left party, which was the only party within its bloc to win seats, prefers to remain in the opposition, instead of governing with radicals like the populists and the Northern League. The League leader prefers to govern only with his bloc, not either of the other two parties. He also opposes any limited-time or purpose governments, such as a grand coalition to amend the election law to give a bonus number of seats to the party winning the most votes in order to obtain a majority. Therefore, it will be difficult for a government to be formed under these circumstances because no one can obtain a vote of confidence, which requires a majority. The Italian President likely would give the League and then the populists a mandate to explore the formation of a government, but they would each likely fail, which would necessitate other options.
A combination of the Berlusconi’s conservatives and the center-left would not have enough votes, but the League and the populists, who share much of a radical platform of being anti-European, anti-immigrant, pro-Russian, protectionist and anti-vaccination, would have a bare majority. However, it might be difficult for the League leader to accept being in government as a junior partner, instead of as prime minister. Even this arrangement would likely not be stable, as the parties disagree on other matters, although it might be the least unstable option of all. The President also has other options, such as installing a limited-time or purpose government, for example, to amend the election law, or to install a technical government. The other option is for the Italians to hold another parliamentary election in two months. Those voters who voted for the small parties that did not win seats would likely vote for one of the larger parties that did. It is possible that some centrists from either bloc could vote for Berlusconi’s center-right party to make it the largest party within the winning right-wing bloc to prevent the League leader at least from being premier, if not out of government.
In the meantime, the outgoing center-left-center-right coalition remains in power as a caretaker.