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Populist parties surge in Italy election

07 March 2018

Before the vote, he was quoted in the New York Times as saying that Italy's election "epitomizes everything, it is pure populism". The European political establishment has let Europeans down to a far greater extent than the USA establishment has let Americans down.

Bond investors have also been spooked by fears of a looming trade war after U.S. President Donald Trump unveiled plans for tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. Africans are streaming into the country.

Young by Italian political standards and ambitious, Renzi was initially the darling of the industrial and financial elite, and was dubbed the "Demolition Man" for his pledge to do away with a creaking old establishment.

"The real message here is that the Italian economy is getting better, and when the market becomes aware of what the political situation is, they should continue to buy (Italian) BTPs", he said.

By contrast, the right dominated in the wealthier north, with support for the centre-left largely concentrated into a narrow stretch of central Italy, leaving the country more politically divided than at any time in recent history.

The big question, following yesterday's elections, is whether the M5S will manage to form a coalition with another party, and propose a government with enough delegates to be able to approve laws and properly function. Thus, it may take weeks of bargaining to determine who will lead the next government and who will be in it.

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It followed the so-called "first republic" of the post-war generation, in which Christian Democrats anchored government after short-lived coalitions, cobbled together with the aim of keeping what was then Western Europe's largest communist party out of power.

Should either party - or both - end up governing, analysts say they are likely to increase government spending, which would only add to Italy's massive public debt, already at 130 percent of GDP.

"In terms of programs, one could actually argue that there is more that separates Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia from the League than the Five Star Movement from the League".

That's as it should be.

Silvio Berlusconi's party is in alliance with the Northern League, which is led by far-right politician Matteo Salvini.

Results show that the centre-right coalition won about 37 per cent of the vote while the populist anti-EU 5-Star Movement collected around 31 per cent.

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Combine the League's vote with Five Star's and you're very close to 50 percent.

Across the continent, in nearly every country, and seemingly irrespective of tradition or electoral system, party systems are fragmenting and new populist parties (right, left, separatist and centrist) are intervening to disrupt old orders.

As one of its leading members, Alessandro Di Battista, put it: "They're all going to have to come to speak to us". Although, the underlying theme is the rise in popularity of populist parties among voters.

Now, it seemed, the Merkel-Emmanuel Macron partnership was on and the German-French engine was primed to push a core group of European Union nations toward more unity. It means that the European Commission might have a hard time trying to sway Italy's decision.

Italy is one of the main entry points into Europe for migrants from Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

"Government formation will take longer because of this division" as leaders adjust to new territorial equilibriums, he said on Sky TG24.

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Populist parties surge in Italy election