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Italy’s national elections give no clear winner: Bersani, Berlusconi and Grillo have no majority

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Pierluigi Bersani

Pierluigi Bersani

Italy held national elections on Sunday and Monday but there is no clear winner. The left-leanng Democratic Party led by Pier Luigi Bersani was expected to win the elections hands down. But former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi and the Five Star Movement of former comedian turned politician Beppe Grillo ruined the Mr Bersani’s plans.

In Italy, the list of MPs that sit in the lower house of Parliament – or House of Chambers – are chosen by the party’s ruling body ahead of the elections. The most voted coalition is given 340 seats, but in the Senate things change.

The Washington Post reports:

Italy’s Senate is elected on a regional basis, with each region getting a number of seats to be allocated through coalition voting, a la the national Chamber of Deputies. The winning party in each region gets a majority of the region’s seats. But there’s no guarantee that any one party will get a majority of the Senate as a whole. And because regionally-based legislative bodies tend to have a rural bias (see, again, the U.S. Senate), Berlusconi is expected to win the Senate.

Berlusconi and Bersani are unlikely to join forces to form a cohalition government and the only chance for Mr. Bersani to form a government would be to form a coalition with Beppe Grillo’s Five Star Movement. But speaking on his web-radio on Monday on the heels of a result that has turned an online movement that began in 2007 into Italy’s top party, Grillo said the Five Star Movement wouldn’t take part in political meddling.

Italy is in the midst of its worst recession since the end of World War II and so far the austerity Italian governments have imposed on its population hasn’t gone down well, which explains Grillo’s success. The Five Star movement calls for more spending and lower taxes in spite of EU pacts that urge Italy to cut down its national debt and lower its deficit.

Not even the help of outgoing Prime Minister Mario Monti‘s party would be enough for Mr. Bersani to have a majority in the upper House of Parliament. So what next, if Italian politicians fail to form a coalition government?

If a government can’t get the support of both houses, the president can dissolve them and call new elections. Giorgio Napolitano, the current president, has supported the European Union’s interventions in Italy (going so far as to dismiss Berlusconi as prime minister in 2011, basically on German chancellor Angela Merkel’s orders).

So those are Italy’s two possible futures: a shaky coalition with an anti-E.U. comedian, or another election within months of the last one. Europe is doing great, you guys.

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