You’d expect to hear about Salento in a travel blog, inviting you to explore the villages and secluded white sand beaches of this Italian gem. But there’s more to the region than scenery: it’s the home of one of Italy’s first major experiments with e-voting. First, the trivia. Martignano is the one of the region’s smallest towns, situated in an area known as the Grecia Salentina, a language enclave of ten municipalities where griko is spoken, a language originating from ancient greek (Salento was once part of the Magna Grecia). Small yet culturally lively, Martignano still has one of the best broadband infrastructures in Italy. Melpignano is another town in the Grecia Salentina, and also uses griko. Onto the politics: smaller towns and municipalities in Italy have recently been asked to cast their votes as part of an “advisory referendum” on the question of whether to join up with other towns with up to 5,000 citizens. It’s a part of an ongoing countrywide bid to try to reduce public spending by cutting the number of small municipalities and provinces and the amount of administration that goes with them.
Articles about voting issues in the Italian Republic.
It is the most famous quote in modern Italian literature, because it captures so well the cynicism and conservatism of modern Italian politics. “If we want everything to remain as it is,” says Tancredi in Giuseppe di Lampedusa’s “The Leopard”, “everything needs to change.” For once, Italy’s politicians have turned the saying on its head. On April 20th they arranged for things to stay as they were in order to get them to change. After failing to find agreement to elect a new president, the heads of Italy’s two leading mainstream parties, Pier Luigi Bersani of the Democratic Party (PD) and Silvio Berlusconi of the People of Freedom (PdL) movement, went to the 87-year-old incumbent, Giorgio Napolitano, and begged him to stay on. Unsurprisingly, given his age, Mr Napolitano had discounted a second term. So he was able to make demands: he would agree only if the PD and PdL broke the deadlock that was stopping the formation of a new government.
Italy was stalled in political deadlock on Saturday after a new round of talks failed to move forward toward forming a government, officials said, and news reports said President Giorgio Napolitano was weighing whether to resign to give a new team a chance at breaking the impasse. Such a move would allow Parliament to elect a new president, who would then also have the option of dissolving the body and calling new elections. The president’s office called journalists to the presidential palace around midday on Saturday, when his decision is expected. Mr. Napolitano has been under some pressure from all sides to act quickly as Italy struggles through one of its most difficult economic crises since World War II. “Enough With Games!” ran a banner headline Friday in Il Sole 24 Ore, the country’s main economic newspaper.
President Giorgio Napolitano, a former communist resistance fighter who negotiated Silvio Berlusconi’s resignation, is preparing his final political battle as he seeks to steer Italy out of its latest government crisis before his term expires in May. Napolitano, 87, is charged with resolving the political logjam caused by elections last month that produced a hung parliament. To avoid a new vote, he can try to forge a national- unity government, accept an administration without a majority or appoint a non-politician to head a so-called technical government, similar to that of Prime Minister Mario Monti. Markets are pricing in two scenarios, “another technical government or the possibility, which is less and less likely, of a bipartisan government,” Mario Spreafico, who manages 1.5 billion euros ($1.95 billion) as chief investment officer at Schroders Private Banking for Italy, said in a phone interview. “Both would be temporary solutions” before new elections.” The Feb. 24-25 ballot, which left front-runner Democratic Party leader Pier Luigi Bersani short of a majority in the Senate, has forced him to court the support of former comedian Beppe Grillo and his anti-establishment Five Star Movement, which won a quarter of the vote. Grillo responded by describing Bersani as a “dead man walking,” stressing his party would not give backing to any government. Italy’s 10-year bond yield has risen 21 basis points since the vote to 4.66 percent.
Italian center-left leader Pier Luigi Bersani rallied his party on Wednesday behind a plan to form a minority government backed by populist Beppe Grillo after failing to secure victory in last week’s election. Bersani, whose coalition threw away a 10-point lead in the opinion polls before the February 24-25 vote, won control of the lower house but let slip a workable parliamentary majority by failing to win the Senate. The result has left no group able to form a government on its own and Italy facing weeks of uncertainty. A new election could be called within months if no accord can be reached between the divided parties. Underlining pressure on politicians to agree on a government to tackle the problems of one of the world’s biggest sovereign debtors, credit rating agency DBRS cut Italy’s debt grade to A (low) from A on Wednesday, citing political uncertainty and a prolonged recession.
Pier Luigi Bersani, the notional winner of Italy’s general elections last month, told his party’s senior leaders that he would try to form a government even though his center-left coalition didn’t have a Senate majority. Any alliance with Silvio Berlusconi, longtime leader of the center-right, was “not practicable,” while some form of dialogue with the anti-establishment Five-Star Movement might be, Mr. Bersani said as he opened a day-long meeting of his Democratic Party’s top officials Wednesday. Mr. Bersani, whose center-left coalition narrowly won the most votes in an election that unexpectedly showed a near tie between three rival groups, is under pressure to outline how he will try to form a coalition able to pass a confidence vote in both parliamentary chambers. Political instability in Italy has raised concerns that the euro area’s policy approach to its sovereign debt crisis is failing. Italy’s election was a “thermometer” of long-simmering tensions, Mr. Bersani said, noting that euro-skepticism is growing even in Germany.
As Italy faces a deep political crisis, the fate of the country is in the hands of an octogenarian former communist only weeks from retirement. Under Italy’s constitution, President Giorgio Napolitano, 87, is charged with trying to find the way out of an intractable impasse caused by a huge protest vote in the Feb 24-25 election, which saw no group emerge with enough support to govern. The task is exceedingly difficult, but if anybody can succeed it is probably Napolitano, who enjoys both huge respect and popularity, and has shown skill in navigating previous major storms in Italy. In fact after an election in which Italians vented their rage against the politicians, he may be the only traditional political figure left who commands much respect at all. Napolitano has stepped into the breach in a moment of emergency before, in November 2011, when Italy faced a perilous debt crisis. He engineered the replacement of scandal-plagued premier Silvio Berlusconi with technocrat Mario Monti.
Italy could be inching closer towards another election within months after center-left leader Pier Luigi Bersani issued an ultimatum to anti-establishment comic Beppe Grillo to support a new government or return to the polls. Last week’s election, in which Grillo’s 5-Star Movement won a huge protest vote, left no group with a working majority in parliament, making an alliance with a rival the only way out. On RAI state television late on Sunday, Bersani underlined his opposition to two of the options floated – another technocrat government like the outgoing one led by Mario Monti or a coalition with Silvio Berlusconi’s center-right. That would leave only one possibility to avoid elections – Grillo’s backing for the center-left, which won the lower house in the election but does not have enough support in the Senate. “Now (Grillo) must say what he wants, otherwise we all go home, including him,” Bersani said.
Italy may hold new elections within months should Democratic Party leader Pier Luigi Bersani fail to win support in parliament to form a government after inconclusive elections. There are no alternatives to a vote “in a few months” if Bersani doesn’t get a majority in parliament, Stefano Fassina, economic-policy spokesman for Bersani, said today on Sky TG24 TV. “We should name a new president, change the electoral law and then return to polls as soon as possible.” Italian bond yields surged after elections on Feb. 24-25 ended in a four-way parliamentary split, raising doubt over the stability of the next government. Bersani, whose party won the most votes, failed to gain control of parliament as former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and comedian-turned-politician Beppe Grillo won blocking minorities in the Senate.
The prospect of an early repeat vote in Italy to break the February election gridlock has receded after the outgoing head of state rejected the idea. Giorgio Napolitano, who as president holds the power to dissolve parliament, said he doubted his successor in the post would favour the idea either. Mr Napolitano must stand down as president in mid-May. The three main political forces are sharply divided after none managed to win an outright majority. Uncertainty over the future management of the eurozone’s third-biggest economy has caused concern among Italy’s partners and investor confidence has been shaken. A protest movement led by a former comedian, Beppe Grillo, surged virtually from nowhere to take a quarter of the vote, handicapping the traditional alliances on the right and left. The centre-left bloc led by Pier Luigi Bersani won a majority in the lower house but not in the equally important upper chamber. It is expected to attempt to form a government after the new parliament meets, some time within the next fortnight.