On Sunday 25 September Italy went to the polls to vote in a snap general election, following the collapse of Mario Draghi’s coalition government in July 2022. The centre-right coalition, led by Giorgia Meloni from the Brothers of Italy party, won the largest share of the vote, with Meloni set to become Italy’s first female prime minister. This Just the Facts examines Italy’s political system, the parliamentary campaign and the results of the 2022 election.
Elections in Italy
Italy is a unitary parliamentary republic with a bicameral parliamentary system, consisting of a lower house, the Chamber of Deputies;, and an upper house, the Senate. The houses have equal power and perform identical legislative functions. The Italian electorate votes for the lower chamber and the senate in the same election and get one voting slip for each house. Following the introduction of a new electoral law in 2020, the number of seats in the lower house has been reduced to 400 from 630. Similarly, the number of seats in the senate has been cut to 200 from 315.
Italy has a mixed electoral system, whereby 36% of members are elected in first-past-the-post single member constituencies. The remaining members are elected using proportional representation and eight seats are also reserved for overseas constituencies.
Parties can stand on their own in elections or can form coalitions with other parties. As such, parties must secure at least 3% of the vote in order to win seats, whilst coalitions require 10%. Additionally, the Italian election system implements a gender quota, whereby no more than 60% of the candidates on any of the lists can be of the same sex.
The president of Italy is the head of state and is elected for a seven-year term by a joint assembly of the parliament and regional representatives. The parliament on the other hand has a five-year mandate, meaning that the president cannot be re-elected by the same parliament. The current office holder is Sergio Mattarella, who was elected to serve a second term in February 2022. The president’s role is mostly ceremonial, but centres on protecting the Constitution of Italy.
The prime minister, or “President of the Council of Ministers”, is appointed by the president and must have the support of the parliament to remain in office. However, the prime minister is not necessarily the leader of the largest party or coalition. Since 1993, Italy has had four technocratic administrations, whereby the president, with the support of the parliament, has installed a technocrat as prime minister.
Mario Draghi, for example, was appointed Prime Minister in February 2021 following the resignation of Giuseppe Conte. Prior to his appointment, Draghi served as President of the European Central Bank and governor of the Bank of Italy.
2022 Campaign Issues
Giorgia Meloni’s far-right party, Brothers of Italy, have been the front runners during this election. They were the only major party to have stayed out of the coalition government under Draghi’s premiership, which collapsed in July 2022. The party has formed a centre-right coalition with three other parties, the League, Forza Italia, and Us Moderates. The Five Star Movement (M5S) became the largest party in the 2018 general election but has since experienced a change in leadership and direction. Luigi di Maio, who resigned as party leader in September 2021, left the party in June 2022 due to tensions with his successor Giuseppe Conte, and founded his own party, Together for the Future.
The centre-right coalition wants to renegotiate Italy’s EU National Recovery and Resilience Plan, which is part of the NextGenerationEU programme, and redirect the funding forwards tackling the current energy crisis. The plan, which was negotiated by Draghi, includes targeted investments to aid Italy’s digital and green transition, strengthen economic and social resilience and the single market. In return for the €191.5 billion plan, Italy has agreed to a set of reforms, which aim to ‘address bottlenecks to lasting and sustainable growth’.
Meloni’s plans for this have been criticised by Enrico Letta, leader of the centre left Democratic Party, as well as Emma Bonino, leader of the More Europe party. Both have raised concerns about the impact a renegotiation of the plan may have on Italy’s relationship within the EU.
As in previous years, immigration has emerged as one of the main issues of the campaign, with Matteo Salvini, leader of the League, vowing to stop the arrival of migrants and asylum seekers at Italy’s ports.
The issue of human rights has also been an important element of this campaign. While the Brothers of Italy party pledged to maintain Italy’s law on same-sex civil unions, advocators have expressed concern about Meloni’s views on LGBTQ+ issues, adoption and reproductive rights.
2022 Election Results
The centre-right coalition, led by Giorgia Meloni, have emerged as the winners of the election, increasing their number of seats across both houses by around 16%. As such, Meloni is expected to become Prime Minister with a comfortable majority and will be the first woman to take up the position. The Five Star Movement, who were the major success story of the previous election, saw their vote share decrease this year. The centre-left party came second in the election, however its leader, Enrico Letta, has announced his resignation as leader of the Democratic Party, describing the election as a ‘sad day for Italy and Europe’.
Results of the 2022 Italian General Elections
|Chamber of Deputies||Senate|
|Coalition/ Party||Seats 2018||Seats 2022||Seats 2018||Seats 2022||Seat Change %|
|Centre-right coalition||265||237||137||115||+ 16.13|
|Five Star Movement||227||52||112||28||-22.54|
|Azione-Italia Viva (Centre coalition)||N/A||21||N/A||9||N/A|
|Free and Equal (LEU)||14||N/A||4||N/A||N/A|
|SVP||4||3||3||2||– + 0.09|