The Irish Times view on Italy’s elections: a state of flux

Support for the maverick Five Star movement, once the country’s most popular party, has fallen off a cliff

It would be a mistake to read too much by way of national trends into the weekend's Italian local elections. Although the right and far- right, as well as the populist Five Star movement, saw setbacks and lost a number of cities to the resurgent centre-left Democratic Party, national polling still shows Matteo Salvini's League and fellow far-right outfit Brothers of Italy, led by Giorgia Meloni, remain the country's largest two parties. They could be expected to form a coalition government if a general election were held today.

The results should, however, pose no problems for the coalition government under former European Central Bank president Mario Draghi, who took over as a non-party technocratic prime minister in February with a pledge to implement structural reforms to the deeply indebted Italian economy. Draghi's steady leadership remains unchallenged, with approval ratings close to 70 per cent.

Salvini, for one, insists his party remains committed to the government, although it has been passed out on the right by the Brothers, now the most popular party in the country with some 30 per cent support. The two parties are also likely to have more mayors by the end of the counting than they had before. Meloni can expect to be in the running for the premiership after an election, which has to take place by 2023, with the League as her junior partner. That prospect – of Italy firmly joining the Polish-Hungarian far-right axis in the EU – will be of concern throughout the union.

Support for the maverick Five Star movement, once the country's most popular party, has fallen off a cliff with real questions now being raised about whether it can survive. The story was different for the Democratic Party under former prime minister Enrico Letta; it took back control of Rome and Turin and is expected to do likewise in Bologna, Milan and Naples in second rounds.


Italian politics remains in flux as voters, in a state of permanent disillusionment about politics, again try out and discard each new flavour of the week in turn.