On March 4, Italians took to the polling booths for their 2018 general election, which they oh-so-lovingly nicknamed the “Throw the Bums Out” election. The vote came following the dissolvement of the Italian Parliament by President Sergio Mattarella on December 28, 2017.
Voters nationwide were tasked with electing all 630 members of the Chamber of Duties (similar to the United States’ House of Representatives) and 315 delegates to the Senate of the Republic (like the Senate). The President of Italy, Sergio Mattarella, is currently serving in his seven-year term and will be up for re-election in 2022.
Straying away from the usual political trends, more than half of the votes opted for anti-establishment parties. The Five Star Movement, Italy’s populist party represented by Luigi Di Maio, raked in nearly 35% of the popular vote. The results of the party shocked experts, as Five Star Movement has a Eurosceptic agenda.
Contrary to prior beliefs, Eurosceptic groups dominated the election. Euroscepticism is a growing fad in European countries, as illustrated by voting trends throughout the continent in the past couple of years. Eurosceptics describe themselves as people opposed to the ever-increasing powers of the European Union.
Recently, immigration has caused chaos in Italy’s political climate (sound familiar?). Since 2013, more than 6,000 Libyans have settled in Italy, as a result of the brewing Civil War in their home country.
Just one day before the election on March 3, six African migrants were seriously injured in a drive-by shooting by a 28-year-old Italian, in obvious response to the controversies.
Simon Tilford, chief economist at the Institute for Social Change, said, “Immigrants are the perfect scapegoat for all manner of angst, both economic and cultural, and very easy fertile ground for the populists. It reflects a broad loss of confidence in governance and and government institutions.”
Former Italian Prime Minister and member of the Forza Italia party, Silvio Berlusconi, called Italy’s immigration issue a, “social bomb ready to explode.”
No party in Italy was expected to win a majority, but potential governing parties will emerge on March 23, when newly-elected delegates will gather to choose presidents of both the Chamber and Senate.