Italian standoff 2018 – an introduction

You see, having a general election is usually something good for any democratic country. People get its choice to express their vote, a lot of candidates gets elected or rejected, then we have a new Parliament, a new government and so on.
Well, it didn’t work so good this time.

The first part, running a general election, wasn’t perfect. The new law in effect shows more than a bit of trouble so far. Many commentators, including myself, foretold that this mechanism was fragile. Three days after the election we finally got the final results. You must really hope that nobody starts a judicial war about the whole process.

Of course, the most important thing about a general election is the final result. You must also consider what was the situation before, in order to get the full understanding of the actual situation.
In 2013, we got a mixed result, with the center-left coalition as a nominal winner, a good quarter of the votes in control of the Five Stars Movement and a defeated center-right coalition in shambles. The winners didn’t have enough votes to run a solo government, then they got an unstable alliance with one of the center-right parties (Forza Italia). In five years we got three different men in charge (Renzi, Letta, and Gentiloni).

This time the tide turns out really bad for the center-left coalition. Now they are the third force in our country, with a striking first place assigned to the center-right coalition (more or less 37% of the votes and a blatant result for the Five Stars Movement (about 32% of the votes). Once again, nobody gets enough consensus to rule without alliances. Now things get really interesting. You see, every leader in this campaign called for no compromise with the other forces. That leads to a political standoff.
Who will blink first?

Political instability is not something unprecedented in Italy. We got decades of short-time governments, shifting alliances and all the tricks you can imagine. Remember Machiavelli? Well, we did in spades, trust me on this matter. The difference is propaganda-related, no surprise after three decades of oversimplified political messages forced down our collective throat by the media. Italians despise their politicians to the max, yet they want them to honor their promises.  It looks like that we cannot have a new cabinet this time and that leaves room for just one conclusion: repeat the whole process again and hoping for a solution.

Sounds good, doesn’t it? There is a little problem, it’s about time.
You see, it will take what’s left of this month to set up the new Parliament, to elect the presidents of the Lower House and the Senate and to get over the chances to form a new cabinet. The Italian President of the Republic could issue a call for a new election for April at best.

In April, we will have to formulate the proposal for the national budget administration, a process we have to check out with the European Commission. Who will do that?
The former cabinet is still in charge of the common matters but it will not have any approval from the new Parliament. So, we will have to wait a while. Maybe until the end of April. No big deal, right? Our laws set up for a three month period for the political campaign.
It will be May, June, and July. We will vote in August. That will be a disaster for many commentators, for the fear of a low voters affluence. All right, then we will vote in September.

In the best case scenario, we will have a new cabinet up and running in the first days of October. A pity that we have to present to the European Union the final scheme for the national budget in November and get it approved before the end of the year.
In the worst case scenario, the new Parliament will not be able to express a confidence vote for the new cabinet and we will have to vote again in 2019.
Time is a valuable thing. Can we afford to wait so long?

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