Italy election: Five Star-led coalition ‘may disappoint voters’, says expert

Italy (PR)

5 March 2018

  • Dr Davide Vampa, an Italian politics expert at Aston University, analyses election result
  • Five Star Movement will lose its ‘purity’ and will force it to take a clearer ideological position
  • Interview opportunities available. Contact the press office on the details below.

A coalition led by the Five Star Movement will force the party to take a clearer ideological position as it forms a government, according to an Italian politics expert.

Dr Davide Vampa, Lecturer in Politics and International Relations at Aston University, said: “The Five Star Movement, which until now has refused any collaboration with other parties, will have to change its approach and open a dialogue with its competitors in order to secure a confidence vote in Parliament.

“So far it has also rejected any left-right labels and has been able to appeal to different sectors of the electorate. Yet government formation will also force the M5S to take a clearer ideological position.

“The party has two choices. The first one is to try to get the support from Matteo Renzi’s Democratic Party (PD) and other smaller groups on the centre-left. This is possible, as many members and activists of the M5S are ideologically closer to that part of the political spectrum. Yet after five years of fierce opposition to the PD-led governments, relations between the two parties are strained and it will be very difficult to reach a compromise.

“The second option is to ally with the League and form a ‘populist’, Eurosceptic coalition. Yet Salvini, the League’s leader, has already ruled out this option. His key goal is probably to consolidate his position as the leader of a broad centre-right coalition, rather than becoming the junior partner of a M5S-led government.

“Whatever they choose, the M5S are likely to lose their political ‘purity’ and this will probably disappoint some of their supporters.”

Analysing the overall result, Dr Vampa added: “This result is striking given the fact that only four years ago, the Matteo Renzi’s Democratic Party (PD) managed to win around 40% of the vote in the European election. Over the last three years the PD have become increasingly unpopular and Renzi’s leadership has been significantly weakened.

“Silvio Berlusconi’s party Forward Italy (Forza Italia) has been severely punished by voters and with just around 14% of the vote, it is no longer the largest party of the centre-right. Berlusconi, for the first time in more than 20 years, will no longer be able to exert his influence on important aspects of the democratic process. He can no longer be considered the leader of the conservative front and Matteo Salvini, the leader of the League, who is 37 years younger than Berlusconi, can now claim that role.

How has this happened?

“The results suggest radical changes in the political geography of the country. There is a clear split between a north dominated by the League and a south where the Five Star Movement achieved impressive results, beyond 40% of the vote.

“On the other hand, the so-called ‘red belt’ in central Italy, where the Matteo Renzi’s Democratic Party (PD) used to be strong, has significantly shrunk. The PD seems to have achieved better results in the rich centres of large cities such as Milan and Turin than in provincial areas, where the League and M5S have been significantly more successful.”


Notes to the editor

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About Dr David Vampa

Davide holds a PhD in Political and Social Sciences from the European University Institute, Florence. Before joining Aston University in 2017, he worked as a lecturer at De Montfort University and at the University of Nottingham.

His research focuses on multi-level party politics and public policy. In particular he is interested in the politics of welfare in countries, such as Italy, Spain and the UK, that have witnessed the gradual strengthening of regions and devolved administrations as arenas of social policy making.

He is currently involved in two projects. The first one studies the adjustments of regional governments to austerity and their response to the fiscal constraint imposed by central governments in the aftermath of the Great Recession. The second one aims to assess the links between Brexit and territorial governance in the UK.

Additionally, he has worked on the organisation and ideology of populist parties. He has also published articles on the transformation of local and regional representation in Western Europe.

About Aston University

Founded in 1895 and a University since 1966, Aston is a long established university led by its three main beneficiaries – students, business and the professions, and our region and society. Aston University is located in Birmingham and at the heart of a vibrant city and the campus houses all the university’s academic, social and accommodation facilities for our students.  Professor Alec Cameron is the Vice Chancellor & Chief Executive.

Aston has been a leading university for graduate employment success for over 25 years and our students do extremely well in securing top jobs and careers.  Our strong relationships with industry partners mean we understand the needs of employers, which is why we are also ranked in the top 20 for graduate employability.

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