Who is running, how voting works in Italy’s election?

20 September 2022
 Who is running, how voting works in Italy’s election?

Italy is set to vote in an election that will likely see its most far-right government in power since World War II

Италия должна проголосовать 25 сентября на общенациональных выборах, которые, вероятно, приведут к власти ее самое ультраправое правительство со времен Второй мировой войны во главе с первой женщиной-премьер-министром страны.

Fratelli d'Italia («Братья Италии») Джорджии Мелони, партия постфашистского происхождения, переживает стремительный рост — с 4 процентов поддержки избирателей в 2018 году до прогнозируемых 25 процентов в этом году — после того, как политическая борьба привела к падению Правительство национального единства премьер-министра Марио Драги.

What’s the talk of the town?
Campaigning along the “God, family and homeland” motto, Meloni put on alert opponents who say her rise to power will endanger democracy, roll back civil rights and push the country closer to nationalist and far-right parties such as Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban’s Fidesz and Spain’s Vox party.

For 10 years, her flagship policies have been based on slamming “illegal immigrants” and gay rights lobbies and criticising the European Union.

To win the elections, she has joined forces with anti-migrant Matteo Salvini’s League party, and former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia (Forward Italy).

Unlike her coalition partners, she strengthened her reputation as a “coherent” politician by standing firm in opposition after refusing to support Draghi’s cabinet. This allowed her to pick up a large slice of the country’s opposition vote.

But as Italy is set to receive 200 billion euros ($200bn) in EU recovery funds and Meloni’s chances of becoming Italy’s first female prime minister are high, she has carefully worked on mending ties with Brussels by showing a more moderate face and delivering reassuring statements.

She repeatedly stressed her coalition would not pose a threat to the bloc’s stability and pledged support for Ukraine and for sanctions against Russia. Critics argue though that the softening of her tone is just a temporary readjustment.

There is also a lot of buzz around Brothers of Italy’s post-fascist roots, including over its logo – the same tricolour flame of the Movimento Sociale Italiano (MSI), a party founded in 1946 by supporters and former members of dictator Benito Mussolini which rebranded in the 1990s into a nationalist conservative group.

Giorgia Meloni, leader of the far-right Brothers of Italy party, attends a rally in Duomo square ahead of the Sept. 25 snap election, in Milan, Italy

Meloni attends a rally in Milan ahead of the September 25 snap election [Flavio Lo Scalzo/Reuters]
How does the voting system work?

Italians will vote for a slimmed-down parliament: 400 seats in the lower house, the Chamber of Deputies, and 200 in the Senate of the Republic. Candidates can compete in parties or coalitions and voters need to give one vote each for the Chamber and the Senate.

In the current electoral system, 37 percent of the seats will be allocated based on the first-past-the-post-principle, meaning that whoever gets more votes wins the seat.

The rest are allocated by proportional representation. What is the winning strategy then?

“Considering the electoral system, to have a wide coalition is fundamental, and by having a wider coalition the centre right is well facilitated [to win] compared to the fragmented left,” said Lorenzo Pregliasco, founding partner of polling firm YouTrend.

Leftish and centre-right parties have failed to form an alliance, despite several attempts by the leading left-wing Democratic Party (PD).