Italian President Sergio Mattarella signaled he would soon pave the way for national elections early next year, telling political leaders that the parliamentary term was drawing to an end. “Our voice will be the stronger if we create the image of a country which is united, stable, determined, capable of respecting commitments,” the head of state said at a year-end ceremony with government ministers, party leaders and senior officials at the presidential palace in Rome. He referred to “the electoral process which is about to begin.” Mattarella is likely to sign a decree to dissolve parliament between Dec. 27 and Dec. 29, according to a state official who could not be named discussing confidential matters. A general election would take place most likely on March 4 or March 11, the official added, with the date to be decided by the government of Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni.
Italy may face political turbulence after the ballot as opinion polls currently show the anti-establishment Five Star Movement ahead of the ruling Democratic Party and of a possible center-right coalition. None of the three would win a parliamentary majority, according to the latest surveys.
Five Star, which demands Mattarella give it a mandate to try to form a government if it wins the most votes, has ruled out creating a coalition, saying it would instead seek external backing for its policies from all political forces.