Where is Italy headed after the elections?

Roughly half of Italy's voters cast their ballots for anti-system parties. But neither the Movimento 5 Stelle nor the alliance consisting of three right-wing conservative parties and the Lega Nord - which had a particularly strong showing - has gained a governing majority. Commentators outline the challenges that lie ahead for Italy and the EU.

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La Stampa (IT) /

The antiglobalists are taking over

The times of the big popular parties have come to an end and the era of the antiglobalists is dawning, laments Maurizio Molinari, chief editor of La Stampa:

“The winners are the groups characterised by a strong distrust of the representative institutions. What the winners of March 4 all have in common is that they are not rooted in post-war Europe which yearned for peace, but in the Europe protesting the consequences of globalisation. ... However, Italy is not only the first country in Europe where anti-establishment forces are successful, it is also the first Western country in which not just one but two anti-globalisation options were up for election: the Movimento 5 Stelle and Lega Nord. And both were rewarded.”

The Times (GB) /

On a collision course with the Eurozone

This is the dawn of a difficult era for the Eurozone, The Times predicts:

“An Italian exit from the euro remains very unlikely but is closer to the realm of the possible. Both Five Star and the League have campaigned on a radical overhaul of the EU's eurozone treaties to tear up legally binding restrictions on public spending and low taxes. Germany and other northern Europeans will fiercely resist any such demands. Whatever the government permutations - even a grand coalition of centre rights and left, although that looks impossible with League's strong result - leaves Italy on a collision course with the eurozone.”

Contributors (RO) /

Even the lesser evil entails major risks

The lesser evil would be if the right-wing party alliance agreed on Antonio Tajani as head of cabinet and put together a minority government, political scientist Valentin Naumescu writes on the blog Contributors:

“The current president of the European Parliament is an acceptable politician who has significant experience in European politics. He would be a head of government with whom Brussels, Berlin and Paris could discuss and advance the EU reform project. ... However, this scenario, too, carries a serious risk. When the ban on [Forza Italia leader] Berlusconi taking up a public office expires in 2019, he could easily provoke a political crisis aimed at toppling the Tajani government and installing himself as prime minister - a situation that could blow up both Italy and the EU.”

Die Presse (AT) /

Grillinis will lose their shine once in power

The Movimento 5 Stelle will fail the reality check, Die Presse predicts:

“'Fuck off' is not a government programme. And that means Luigi Di Maio has yet to face the real endurance test: the encounter with reality. If the man who has promised to clean things up really wants to govern, he'll have to get his hands dirty first. The 31-year-old will be forced to haggle with the despised caste and make deals, compromises and concessions. He'll have to concede that many of his pretty plans for the future are just bubble-dreams. Only a 'Grillino who has lost his shine' can be in government. What remains to be seen is whether the party base will play along - and whether the movement will actually subject itself to this reality check.”

Habertürk (TR) /

Fascism on the advance

There are no good options as far as Habertürk is concerned:

“The most likely scenario appears to be a coalition between the anti-EU and anti-system Movimento 5 Stelle and the fascists. They have the same view of Europe and also, with the exception of a left-wing group within Movimento, similar views on the refugee issue. ... The only option that, like in Germany, would campaign against fascism and for Europe would be a coalition between the Democratic Party and Berlusconi's party, which, however, joined forces with the fascists in the elections. And how can a coalition in which the two parties with the strongest results are not represented work? This time Europe is falling apart without a world war. Once again it is the rise of fascism that is precipitating its collapse.”

El País (ES) /

A dangerous cocktail

Italy faces a serious challenge now, El País fears:

“The rise of populism, the crisis of the traditional parties, Berlusconi's return, the boom of the far right, regionalism, racist flare-ups and on top of that the already inevitable Russian interference all ad up to a worrying cocktail. Despite its devilish party system and a highly complex electoral system Italy has so far managed to ensure that political chaos doesn't impede the formation of a government. But now, with this extreme fragmentation, the third-largest economy in the Eurozone is putting itself to the test with an uncertain outcome.”

The Daily Telegraph (GB) /

EU is called upon to act

The true challenge posed by this election result will only be discovered with time, The Daily Telegraph writes:

“Any Italian government that eventually emerges will probably be too weak to make long overdue reforms to the economy to put it in better shape to weather the next downturn. Meanwhile, as jobs remain scarce and migration flows high, there is a risk that Italians become even more bitter with Brussels. If the EU does not focus on growth and come up with better ways to manage migration, Euroscepticism will become increasingly embedded in Italy.”

La Repubblica (IT) /

Will Italy try its hand as a Visegrád state?

Italy cannot afford to distance itself from the EU, observes Andrea Bonanni, Brussels correspondent for La Repubblica:

“The voters have rewarded those forces that have a sceptical to hostile stance on Europe. In this respect we are moving closer to the Visegrád Group, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. ... However, these countries have a public debt ranging from 36 percent of the GDP (Czech Republic) to 73 percent (Hungary). Ours is 132 percent and isn't going down right now. Those who want sovereignty must not be financially vulnerable. Italy with its astronomic debt and anaemic growth is more vulnerable than ever. With the election of political forces that want to leave the monetary union, like the Lega Nord, or parties that keep changing their mind about this, like the Movimento 5 Stelle, the country will become even more vulnerable.”

Rzeczpospolita (PL) /

A serious blow for the European project

Rzeczpospolita is also deeply concerned about the future of the EU:

“On Sunday morning Euro-enthusiasts were still hoping that thanks the German Social Democrats' decision in favour of a new grand coalition, the consolidation of the Eurozone advocated by Emmanuel Macron could be realised at least in part. But now that the results of the Italian election have come out we know that that's unrealistic. Without the prospect of reforms in Italy there's no way the Germans will take responsibility for 2.3 trillion euros in Italian public debt. ... That, however, is exactly where a budget for the Eurozone, Eurobonds and a joint finance minister would lead. The Italians have buried the project of a two-speed Europe. Let's hope they haven't also killed the European project itself.”