Berlusconi well placed for spring election 

Berlusconi well placed for spring election 

The election last week in Sicily has further weakened Italy’s ruling, centre-left Democratic Party and strengthened the Five-Star Movement’s lead, according to national polling.

But the Ipsos poll for Corriere della Sera said a centre-right coalition would currently win a general election with 253 seats while Five-Star would have 173 MPs and the Democratic Party 164. This would create a hung parliament if replicated in next spring’s general election.

The election must be held by May.

“Certainly, there are reverberations with Sicily but we must remember that half of the electorate there didn’t vote. That says more about the state of Italian politics and is something we need to pay closer attention to,” said Franco Pavoncello, a professor of politics at Rome’s John Cabot University.

The Democratic Party stood at 24.3 per cent, having lost six percentage points in six months, according to polling.

Italy has recently introduced a new electoral system that is set to hurt the anti-establishment Five-Star Movement.

The new mix of proportional representation and first-past-the-post will benefit parties that form pre-election coalitions, which Five-Star has always ruled out.

Former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia polled around 14 per cent, behind Five-Star with 27.4 per cent and the Democratic Party with 25.6 per cent. But it is thought Berlusconi’s right-wing coalition could replicate its Sicily success nationally.

Berlusconi, who some Italians call Il Cavaliere (the knight), has returned, six years after he was forced to resign over claims he paid for sex with an underage prostitute and four years after he was ejected from parliament for tax fraud.

The comeback comes less than 18 months after Berlusconi underwent open-heart surgery.

He will probably not instantly become prime minister again as he is currently appealing to the European Court of Human Rights against a ban from elected office over the fraud conviction. It is unlikely that a verdict will be delivered before May.

Catia Polidori, a Forza Italia MP, said: “It’s no surprise that Berlusconi has returned to the centre of the political scene.

“His resignation was forced by an international plot, but his leadership was respected. He’s a great businessman and led a better economy; if you look at the economic data from the period he was in office, it was a lot better than it is now. Pensions were higher, people lived better, there was less poverty and less unemployment.

“We never had the kind of migrants’ invasion that we have today,” she said in reference to his relationship with Italy.

“We know the real Berlusconi – he’s kind and is one of the most elegant men in the world. With regards to the women in his party, he’s always admired us and our work.”

Big shot: then prime minister Silvio Berlusconi in the Oval Office in 2009. Picture credit: Wikimedia

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