Uncertainty looms as Italy votes

One of Europe's most critical elections of the year is underway, with Italians voting in a ...

Posted: Mar 4, 2018 7:24 PM
Updated: Mar 4, 2018 7:24 PM

One of Europe's most critical elections of the year is underway, with Italians voting in a divisive parliamentary election that is likely to push the country into a state of political paralysis with no outright winner in sight.

The fatigued electorate has faced years of economic stagnation, rampant unemployment levels and unrelenting migration, igniting an anti-EU, anti-establishment rebellion that could see the populist Five Star Movement (M5S) emerge as the single largest party in Parliament.

But familiar faces are waiting in the wings. Four-time Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has constructed a center-right coalition between his Forza Italia party and that of Matteo Salvini's far-right Northern League, along with the neo-fascist Brothers of Italy. The final pre-election poll of voters' intentions had suggested this bloc could end up with the largest grouping in Parliament.

Matteo Renzi, the center-left reformer who stepped aside in 2016 after the failure of a controversial constitutional referendum, is also a contender as leader of the center-left Democratic Party (PD). Though the final opinion poll had the party trailing at 22.8%.

Analysts do not expect any party or alliance to earn an outright majority, meaning Italy could be plunged into months of further political deadlock that could have broader implications for Europe.

Europe on alert

The state of the economy and security remained key issues ahead of the ballot, but one issue dominated this election -- immigration.

Right-wing parties pushed an anti-immigration agenda. The Northern League has advocated for mass expulsions and pledged to put "Italians first."

The narrative around immigration took a darker turn after a man linked with neo-fascist political parties apparently went on a shooting rampage targeting African migrants in the town of Macerata. The incident fueled serious political debate about how the country is reconciling its fascist past.

The poll is being closely scrutinized by European leaders who are concerned by the increasingly euroskeptical sentiment and fearful of any instability in the eurozone's third-largest economy.

"This political uncertainty, government instability and the prospect of repeated elections configure to a 'perfect storm' which could harm one of the main European democracies and further destabilize an already weak continental alliance," Fabio Bordignon, a political scientist at the University of Urbino Carlo Bo, told CNN ahead of the vote.

Related: Can anything save Italy from a return to fascism?

How the vote works

Adding to the chaos of Italian politics, a new (and untested) hybrid electoral method -- which encourages coalitions -- is in play this time round.

The new system combines a first-past-the-post (FPTP) approach with proportional representation (PR). FPTP means the candidate who gets the most votes in a constituency wins a seat in Parliament; PR means that additional seats will be allotted to parties based on the proportion of votes they win nationwide.

Of the 630 seats in lower house of Parliament -- the Chamber of Deputies -- 232 will be elected through FPTP, and 386 through PR. The remaining 12 seats are determined by overseas constituencies. A similar split will be used for Italy's upper house -- the Senate -- with 102 members elected by FPTP and 207 through PR.

Related: Rome's sad decline sums up Italy's problems

With an unproven new system in place and a bloc of undecided voters, many observers believe Italy is headed toward a hung Parliament.

"The most likely outcome is that no coherent parliamentary majority will exist after March 4," Paolo Chiocchetti, fellow of the Robert Schuman Institute of European Affairs at the University of Luxembourg.

"In this case, it is likely that the (Paolo) Gentiloni government will continue to sit in a provisional capacity while parties enter long discussions on whether (to build) an 'all-party' technical government limited to a set of specific reforms or call new general elections," he said.

This story has been corrected to reflect the Democratic Party's standing in the final poll of polls published by YouTrend on February 16, 2018.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 69255

Reported Deaths: 2996
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion15029724
Lake7139273
Elkhart463077
Allen3662158
St. Joseph320379
Hamilton2543104
Hendricks1774105
Vanderburgh176312
Cass17549
Johnson1667118
Porter120939
Tippecanoe111811
Clark110945
Madison86265
LaPorte84329
Howard82465
Kosciusko82213
Bartholomew74847
Marshall74422
Floyd71845
Monroe69530
Delaware65452
Boone64446
Dubois64312
Noble63729
Hancock62838
Jackson5544
LaGrange54610
Warrick52830
Shelby52226
Vigo50910
Grant50729
Dearborn47328
Morgan43732
Henry36418
Clinton3603
White34710
Montgomery34221
Wayne33410
Lawrence33127
Decatur31832
Harrison30022
Miami2592
Scott25210
Daviess24919
Greene24034
Putnam2338
Franklin22911
DeKalb2214
Jennings21312
Jasper2102
Gibson2024
Steuben2013
Ripley1907
Perry17212
Orange16424
Starke1647
Fayette1627
Wabash1613
Posey1600
Jefferson1522
Carroll1482
Whitley1486
Fulton1472
Knox1340
Wells1342
Huntington1193
Tipton1176
Washington1171
Spencer1123
Newton11110
Randolph1074
Clay1015
Adams822
Owen821
Jay810
Rush804
Sullivan781
Pulaski711
Brown701
Fountain642
Benton600
Blackford552
Ohio514
Parke481
Pike470
Crawford440
Switzerland430
Martin420
Vermillion420
Union330
Warren191
Unassigned0202

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 95106

Reported Deaths: 3570
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin17404515
Cuyahoga12881482
Hamilton9248248
Lucas5035319
Montgomery409280
Summit3338217
Marion289644
Butler274360
Mahoning2437253
Pickaway236542
Stark1713137
Warren166935
Lorain165077
Columbiana158360
Trumbull1451105
Fairfield126427
Delaware121918
Licking115844
Clark109214
Lake105436
Wood95458
Clermont85911
Medina84833
Miami78137
Tuscarawas75614
Portage72460
Allen66742
Greene63511
Belmont59026
Richland54712
Ashtabula54445
Erie53527
Geauga53544
Mercer53513
Wayne50858
Ross4194
Huron3784
Ottawa36125
Athens3501
Sandusky34317
Darke34126
Madison33610
Hancock3332
Holmes3226
Auglaize2265
Lawrence2250
Union2221
Jefferson2103
Muskingum1991
Scioto1991
Putnam19817
Washington19822
Coshocton1856
Knox1857
Preble1722
Crawford1685
Seneca1673
Shelby1644
Morrow1602
Clinton1536
Hardin15312
Champaign1502
Fulton1411
Highland1361
Ashland1333
Defiance1324
Logan1302
Wyandot1257
Williams1243
Brown1181
Guernsey1127
Hocking1119
Carroll1105
Perry1093
Henry1081
Fayette1020
Monroe9118
Pike700
Van Wert701
Jackson680
Paulding620
Gallia581
Adams562
Vinton302
Meigs260
Harrison211
Morgan200
Noble160
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Overcast
59° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 59°
Angola
Clear
52° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 52°
Huntington
Overcast
56° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 56°
Decatur
Broken Clouds
55° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 55°
Van Wert
Clear
52° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 52°
Warmer Thursday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events