Just the Facts: Italian and Cypriot Elections

It was a weekend of voting in Cyprus and Italy this past weekend. A runoff for the Presidential election in Cyprus was held on Sunday while Italians went to the polls to elect a new Parliament.
No candidate obtained 50% or over in the first round of Presidential elections that were held in Cyprus on 17 February 2013.  Nicos Anastasiades,  leader of the centre right political party DISY (the Democratic Rally) won 45% of the first round vote with Stavros Malas of the Progressive Party of Working People (AKEL) receiving 27%,  Giorgos Lillikas of the Movement for Social Democracy (EDEK) receiving 24% of the vote and eight minor candidates received under 1% each.

A second round runoff was held on 24 February 2013 with Nicos Anastasiades emerging as the winner of the election with 57.48% of the vote beating Stavros Malas into second place.

The turnout for the second round of the election was 81%, lower than expected. Nicos Anastasiades takes power as Cyprus stands on the brink of bankruptcy, hit by the knock-on effect of Greece’s economic woes.

Nicos Anastasiades favours a quick deal with foreign lenders to finalise a bailout of the Cypriot economy. Stavros Malas also supported a bailout but opposed austerity. The Cypriot economy is in recession and the state has little money in its accounts.  Cyprus first asked the EU for a bailout last July to shore up its banks.

Because of the bailout deal for Greece, and the restructuring of its debts, which saw private bondholders suffer big losses, Cypriot banks lost about 75% of their investments. However, the Cypriot bailout deal has foundered in protracted negotiations.

One of the first tasks for the new President will be to finalise a deal with the other 16 countries that use the euro and with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
A general election took place on 24–25 February 2013 to determine the 630 members of the Italian Chamber of Deputies and the 315 elective members of the Senate for the 17th Parliament of the Italian Republic.  The current election system is a form of party-list proportional representation with a series of thresholds to encourage parties to form coalitions.  Italy is divided into 26 districts for the Chamber of Deputies and 20 regions for the Senate. To guarantee a working majority, the coalition or party that obtains a plurality of the vote, but fewer than 340 seats, is assigned additional seats to reach that number, which roughly is about 54% of all seats. Inside each coalition, seats are divided between parties by the D’Hondt method.

Following the European sovereign debt crisis, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi resigned from his position in November of 2011 and he was also facing criminal charges at this time.   He was replaced as Prime Minister by technocratic Senator for Life Mario Monti.

In December of 2012, Berlusconi announced his intention to run for Prime Minister for a fourth time. Shortly after, his party, People of Freedom (PdL), withdrew its endorsement for Monti’s Cabinet and Monti announced he would resign after sending the annual budget to parliament.

For the purposes of this election, an array of smaller parties came together to form a number of lists united by rough ideological agreements.

Italy. Common Good (Italia – Bene Comune)
Pier Luigi Bersani a former Communist and ex-minister, leads a coalition dominated by his Democratic Party (Partito Democratico or PD), in alliance with the more left-wing Left, Ecology, Freedom party (Sinistra Ecologia Liberta – SEL), Democratic Centre, South Tyrolean People’s Party, Moderates for Piedmont and The Megaphone of Rosario Crocetta.

Centre-right coalition
Former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi leads an alliance between his People of Freedom (Il Popolo Della Liberta or PdL) and the more right-wing Northern League (Lega Nord), The Right, Brothers of Italy, Great South–MpA, Italian Moderates in Revolution, Popular Agreement and the Pensioners’ Party.

Five Star Movement (Movimento 5 Stelle, M5S)
Originally known as Movement of National Liberation (Movimento di Liberazione Nazionale), it is led by Beppe Grillo, a popular comedian and blogger, and Gianroberto Casaleggio. The party is populist, ecologist and partially Eurosceptic.  It also advocates direct democracy, free access to the Internet and condemns corruption. The “five stars” in the name is a reference to five issues championed by the movement: public water, sustainable mobility, development, connectivity, and environmentalism.

With Monti for Italy (Con Monti per l’Italia)
Incumbent Prime Minister Mario Monti leads a centrist coalition, which includes his own list, Civic Choice with Monti for Italy, the Christian Democrats and a smaller centre-right party, Future and Freedom for Italy.

Civil Revolution (Rivoluzione Civile)
Unitary list of Italy of Values, Federation of the Left (Communist Refoundation Party + Party of Italian Communists), Orange Movement, and Federation of the Greens

Stop the Decline (Fermare il Declino, FiD)
A liberal-libertarian political association founded by seven economists: Oscar Giannino, Michele Boldrin, Sandro Brusco, Alessandro De Nicola, Andrea Moro, Carlo Stagnaro and Luigi Zingales supported by 240 personalities and 60,000 public signatories.
According to near-final figures, the centre-left coalition headed by Bersani won 29.5% of the vote for the lower house, compared to 29.2% for Silvio Berlusconi’s centre-right bloc. That is much tighter than the 5-6% gap predicted by opinion polls, and represents a major disappointment for Mr Bersani, who at one stage led by 10%. Mr Berlusconi clawed back the difference with a tireless round of TV and radio appearances, and promises of tax cuts.
Mr Bersani’s slim victory gifts him an automatic 55% of seats in the Chamber of Deputies.
However, no government can rule effectively without control of the Senate. In the Senate, Mr Bersani also came first, taking 31.6% compared to 30.7% for the centre right. But there is no automatic majority.

Popular vote and parliamentary seats in the House:


Popular Vote

Democratic Party 29.5%
People of Freedom 29.1%
5 Star Movement (5 Star Movement) 25.5%
With Monti for Italy 10.5%
Others 5.4%


Parliamentary Seats

Democratic Party 55.0%
People of Freedom 19.9%
5 Star Movement (5 Star Movement) 17.5%
With Monti for Italy 7.8%
Others 0%

Popular vote and parliamentary seats in the Senate:


Popular Vote 

Democratic Party 31.6%
People of Freedom 30.7%
5 Star Movement (5 Star Movement) 23.8%
With Monti for Italy 9.1%
Others 5.4%


Parliamentary Seats

Democratic Party 39.1%
People of Freedom 37.1%
5 Star Movement (5 Star Movement) 17.4%
With Monti for Italy 6.1%
Others 0.3%

Analysis of the result, in particular the situation in the senate was one of political stalemate, with Bersani describing Italy being in a “dramatic situation”. The centre-left has control of the lower house but not the Senate, where its chances of forming a coalition look slim. Both houses are needed in order to govern.

That outcome has sparked fears of political paralysis and possible new elections. Italian and global shares fell as the result became clear, with the value of the euro also dropping.

Strong results for anti-austerity parties were interpreted as showing popular opposition to the austerity measures of the Monti government, [with the populist Five Star Movement considered to have had a very strong election. Analysts were uncertain as to how this new party would behave in the legislature.

On 26 February La Repubblica ran the headline “Boost for Grillo: Italy ungovernable”. Talks to form a new government are expected to start on 10 March.

The Just the Facts is an email information service from European Movement Ireland available to its members. For more information on becoming a member of European Movement Ireland, contact our offices or visit the website at www.europeanmovement.ie


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