Italian center-left Democratic Party concedes electoral defeat: “Sad evening” – National

Italy’s main centre-left group, the Democratic Party (PD), conceded defeat Monday morning in a national election and said it would be the biggest opposition force in the next parliament.

« It’s a sad night for the country, » Debora Serracchiani, a PD MP, told reporters in the party’s first official commentary on the result. « (The right) has a majority in parliament, but not in the country. »

Giorgia Meloni looks set to become Italy’s first female prime minister to head her most right-wing government since World War Two after leading a conservative alliance to triumph in Sunday’s election.

Provisional results showed the right-wing bloc is expected to have a strong majority in both houses of parliament, potentially giving Italy a rare chance at political stability after years of upheaval and shaky coalitions.

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However, Meloni and his allies face an impressive list of challenges, including soaring energy prices, war in Ukraine and a renewed slowdown in the eurozone’s third-largest economy.

“We have to remember that we are not at the end point, we are at the starting point. It is from tomorrow that we have to prove our worth,” Meloni, 45, told enthusiastic supporters of his nationalist Brothers of Italy party early Monday morning.

Meloni downplays his party’s post-fascist roots and describes it as a dominant group like the British Conservatives. She pledged to support Western policy on Ukraine and not to take risks with Italy’s fragile finances.

European capital and financial markets will scrutinize his first moves, given his Eurosceptic past and the ambivalent stance of his allies on Russia.

In his victory speech, Meloni adopted a conciliatory tone.

« If we are called to govern this nation, we will do so for all Italians, with the aim of uniting the people and focusing on what unites us rather than what divides us, » she said. . « Now is the time to be responsible. »

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Italians rush to vote in election that could bring far-right to power

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Projections based on more than half of the votes counted put Italy’s Brothers at almost 26%, up from just 4% in the last national elections in 2018, as voters opted for a largely unheard of figure to address the many issues of the country.

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On the other hand, its main ally suffered a disastrous night, with Matteo Salvini’s League winning around 9% of the vote, against more than 17% four years ago, and being overtaken by Meloni in all its traditional strongholds in the north.

The other major conservative party, Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party, also won around 8%, leaving the Brothers of Italy as the dominant partner.

Although Meloni’s alliance is expected to hold comfortable majorities in the upper and lower houses, its members have divergent positions on several issues that could be difficult to reconcile.

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Salvini, for example, questions Western sanctions against Russia and he and Berlusconi have often expressed admiration for its leader Vladimir Putin.

They also have differing views on how to handle rising energy bills and have made a series of promises, including tax cuts and pension reform, that Italy will struggle to afford.

Sarah Carlson, senior vice-president of credit rating agency Moody’s, said Italy’s next government will have to manage a debt burden « which is vulnerable to negative growth, the cost of funding and changing inflation ».

Meloni will succeed Prime Minister Mario Draghi, the former head of the European Central Bank, who pushed Rome to the center of European policy-making during his 18-month tenure, forging close ties with Paris and Berlin.

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By contrast, among the first leaders to praise Meloni was Viktor Orban, the Hungarian prime minister, who has been accused by Brussels of breaching the rule of law but is close to both Meloni and Salvini.

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Despite his clear victory, the vote was not a resounding endorsement for the Tory alliance. Turnout was just 64% compared to 74% four years ago – a record high in a country that has always had high voter turnout.

The right has taken full advantage of Italy’s electoral law, which benefits parties that forge pacts ahead of the ballot. The centre-left and centrist parties failed to get along and even though they won more votes than the conservatives, they ended up with far fewer seats.

The centre-left Democratic Party (PD) got around 19%, the left-wing non-aligned 5-Star Movement around 16%, while the centrist Action group was just over 7%.

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« It’s a sad night for the country, » said PD MP Debora Serracchiani. « (The right) has a majority in parliament, but not in the country. »

(Reporting by Gavin Jones; Editing by Crispian Balmer)


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