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The 2013 Italian Elections Lead to Political Stalemate

by Lucas Eaves, published

The closely watched Italian general elections came to an end Monday night with no clear winner, a result many feared. Without a clear majority for any of the running coalitions in both the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate, the Italian elections led to a political stalemate.

In the Chamber of Deputies, where the winning coalition is attributed 55 percent of the seats, the majority was garnered by the center-left coalition of Pier-Luigi Bersani. In the Senate, where seats are attributed by region, no coalition received enough votes to reach the 158-seat majority. Tweet it: Tweet

Bersani's center-right coalition took 119 seats in the Senate. Silvio Berlusconi's coalition came in second with 117. Beppe Grillo's coalition prevented either from taking the majority by taking 54 seats, while Mario Monti's coalition garnered the least amount of representation.

Neither of the top coalitions will be able to form a government that will receive the support of both chambers without reaching out to another influential group. Monti 's coalition support would not be sufficient as it only took eighteen seats in the Senate. To avoid complete gridlock and prevent Italy from becoming ungovernable, a number of options exist.

Pier-Luigi Bersani could create an alliance with the unexpected surprise of these elections, the Five Star Movement led by Beppe Grillo. Grillo's coalition, which makes up nearly 24 percent of the Senate, could provide enough seats to create a majority.

However, the former-comedian has based the movement's campaign on criticizing the current political class. Grillo's refusal to collaborate with any political parties makes any alliance with Bersani extremely unlikely. At most, he could possibly agree to externally support a government led by Bersani, meaning the Five Star Movement would not be organic to the centre-left's coalition and would not provide any secretaries.

The other option would be a collaboration between Berlusconi's center-right and Bersani's center-left, which would obviously have enough seats to create a government. However, the alliance would cover such a wide range of political interests that its capacity to govern would be extremely limited, thereby producing an unrealistic option. Share article: Tweet

Without a direct and full involvement of Grillo's coalition -- which at the moment appears extremely unlikely -- whoever is picked by the President of the Republic to be the next prime minister will not have the majority support of both chambers. In order to get out of this stalemate, an observer of Italian politics reported on what could happen in the coming weeks.

An outsider, meaning someone from neither of the major formations involved in the elections, will be nominated prime minister by the President of the Republic to run the day-to-day affairs of the country. The observer continued to explain that this person will also have to organize a reform of the electoral system, which is necessary for electing a coalition with a majority in both chambers and would allow the creation of a new government and avoid additional deadlock.

Such reform will require long negotiations among the different parties. In the end, however, it will lead to a new round of elections -- most likely next summer or fall.

In the meantime, the uncertainty surrounding the current political stalemate and how long it will last will impact the market's confidence as well as major economies around the world as fear over a resurgence of the euro crisis will likely emerge once more.

Even if the Italian Parliament approves new electoral laws, this fear will not necessarily disappear with new elections.

One thing is clear from Monday's elections, a majority of Italians reject the current austerity policies that might have reassured Berlin and Wall Street, but sent Italy back into recession.

If the international pressure to get Italy's huge debt (120% of the GDP) under control and popular opinion among Italian citizens continue to diverge, the stability of the euro -- along with the global economy -- will once again be in jeopardy.

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