Italy’s election delivered a victory for populist parties on Monday, though none earned enough of the vote to rule on their own. Over half of the vote went to either the right-wing, immigration-focused League party, or the unconventional Five-Star Movement which promotes a universal basic income. Both parties have called for rewriting treaties with Europe to grant Italy more sovereignty from the European Union, stopping short of calling for an exit from the EU.
However, it is unclear whether the parties will be able to form a government together. The hung parliament was described as a “worst-case scenario” for Europe last month, by European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker, according to CNN.
The anti-establishment Five-Star Movement won the largest percentage of the vote, at 32.7 percent, outperforming opinion polls. While a right-wing coalition led by Silvio Berlusconi won 37 percent of the vote altogether, Berlusconi’s center-right Forza party was upstaged by its ally, the anti-immigration League party, winning only 14 percent of the vote to the League’s 17.4 percent. Meanwhile, the nation’s center-left coalition performed poorly, winning just 23 percent of the vote altogether. Former prime minister Matteo Renzi stepped down as the leader of center-left Democratic Party in response to the results.
All told, the election was a victory for anti-establishment parties challenging the status quo in Europe. In addition to the victory for the right-wing League, the Five-Star Movement performed far better than expected. In southern Italy, the party won nearly one of every two votes. The area faces an unemployment rate of nearly 20 percent, three times the rate in the north of the country. While the party has advocated for a universal basic income, its leader has referred to the Five-Star Movement as “post-ideological” and many of its positions are considered ambiguous or malleable.
Meanwhile Matteo Salvini’s League party is set to increase its seats in the lower house from just 22 to 123. The League’s path to victory was fairly similar to the trajectory of other right-wing populist parties in Europe, with anti-immigrant and anti-EU sentiment helping to attract voters.
Their victory only adds to the substantial troubles threatening EU unity. According to an announcement from Salvini:
“I have always said, I say now and I will always say that the euro is the wrong currency, and that it was a big mistake getting in it. We have it very clear that the common currency is bound to end. And we want to come prepared to that moment.”