Italy drifts toward paralysis

The head of Italy’s government
Italy’s Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni is all that his predecessor was not: thoughtful, diplomatic, careful. He is not likely, though, to put on a reformer’s hat (source: dpa)
  • Italy’s next elections will be under new, confusing electoral rules
  • Profound change in the composition of parliament is virtually assured, as is further political fragmentation in the country
  • The next government will be very difficult to form, most likely weak and ineffectual

What if Italy ended up without a government? A repetition of Belgian or Spanish scenarios in which political parties cannot agree on a new prime minister for an extended period may be in store for Italy.

In a referendum on December 4, 2016, Italians rejected a constitutional reform proposed by then-Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, who subsequently resigned. New rules for electing members of the parliament’s Chamber of Deputies were enacted by Mr. Renzi’s coalition in 2015, in anticipation of the planned constitutional change. The rules envisioned for a new Senate, however, were shot down along with Mr. Renzi’s reform. As a result, the country is now stuck with two unchanged parliamentary chambers elected by two different sets of rules.

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