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Uncertainty Rules One Month Before Italy Elections

Uncertainty Rules One  Month Before Italy ElectionsUncertainty Rules One  Month Before Italy Elections

Italy heads to the polls next month to vote in a crowded general election—against a backdrop of populist gains in Europe—and the shadow of ex-leader Silvio Berlusconi still looms large.

A hung parliament is widely expected, with no party looking likely to forge a majority, so a coalition in which the veteran former prime minister acts as “kingmaker” remains a distinct possibility, AFP reported.

Following Britain’s Brexit vote in 2016 and the rise of the far-right in France, Germany and Austria last year, attention now turns to the populist surge in the eurozone’s third largest economy.

Italy’s ageing population, struggling economy, “brain drain” of skilled young graduates leaving in increasing numbers and the arrival of 630,000 migrants since 2014 have created fertile ground for the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) and anti-immigration Northern League.

According to opinion polls, a coalition between Berlusconi’s centre-right Forza Italia (Go Italy), the Northern League and the post-fascist Fratelli d’Italia (Italian Brothers) is in front with more than 35% ahead of the March 4 vote.

It is followed by M5S, the leading single party, with 28% and the ruling centre-left Democratic Party (PD) with 25% in the polls, which show that millions of voters remain undecided.

A new electoral law introduced last year—bringing in a combination of proportional representation and first-past-the-post—has made it difficult to predict the margin needed to take power, with experts saying it will fall somewhere between 40 and 45%.

“The only one who can make it happen, from his hospital bed, is Silvio Berlusconi,” said Roberto D’Alimonte, director of political science at Rome’s LUISS University. The billionaire media mogul had to cancel a television appearance due to tiredness this week.

The four-time prime minister, 81, is not able to run for office himself due to a tax fraud conviction and has suffered a series of scandals—including his notorious “bunga bunga” sex parties—as well as having open heart surgery in 2016.

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