Diplomatist Magazine Diplomatist April 2018 - Page 17

INSIDE EUROPE UNCOVERING THE LESSONS FROM ITALIAN ELECTION 2018 BY MAXIME H. A. LARIVÉ* Introduction On March 4, 2018, Italians casted their ballots for the general election. The big winners were the extreme right party, The Northern League (LN) led by Matteo Salvini with 17.7 percent of the vote and the anti-establishment populist 5-Star Movement (M5S) led by Luigi di Maio with 32.2 percent of the vote. Silvio Berlusconi’s center-right party Forza Italia scored 13.9 percent of the vote, and the governing center-left Democratic Party (PD) with18.9 percent, did not perform as expected. Therefore, no single coalition won a majority to govern. A resolution will not occur until the beginning of coalition negotiations, which will be initiated by President Sergio Mattarela following the fi rst meeting of the new parliament on March 23, 2018. The main story behind the recent election is the success of a populist movement and the extreme right responding to domestic concerns and regional and international forces in a core European Union member state. In order to put the Italian election into perspective, three dimensions shall be addressed: fi rst, the underlining domestic forces; second, the regional and international trends with the entrenchment of nationalism and populism; and third, the challenges ahead for Italy and the European Union (EU). Domestic Forces with Regional Resonance The Italian case is no exception to the Euro-Atlantic community’s current struggle with populism and extremism. In fact, the issues shaping the decision of the Italian electorate are certainly local, but resonate throughout the community. The fi rst issue concerns migration. Since 2011, over 750,000 migrants mostly from Sub-Saharan Africa have crossed the sea and arrived in Italy. The issue dominated the campaign. For instance, Salvini, leader of LN proposed to introduce mass deportations of asylum seekers to Africa if elected. The issue of migration relates as well with disagreement with the current European policies, in particular the Dublin regulations and the lack of solidarity from other EU member states to welcome the agreed shares of migrants. The second issue concentrated on the economic and social tensions in the country. Italy is the fourth largest eurozone economy and has been dealing with dire economic conditions Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Diplomatist • Vol 6 • Issue 4 • April 2018, Noida • 15