Here are my final pre-election thoughts on Italy:
- the centre-left will win a majority in the lower house with a national vote share of 4-5 points over the centre-right
- Grillo’s Five Star Movement will come third with more than 15%
- Monti’s centrist coalition will come fourth with less than 15%. I don’t think Monti will win anywhere near the 20-25% many commentators had predicted
- Polling at 4%, which is the threshold to enter parliament, the far-left risks not winning any seats. FARE won’t enter parliament.
- In the Senate, the centre-left will win about 145-168 seats. A majority is at 158 seats, so a small centre-left majority or the need to form an alliance with Monti’s centrist coalition in order to govern are the most likely outcomes. Most commentators seem to have ruled out a centre-left majority, while small, I don’t believe one should be ruled out given recent polling and trends in Lombardy and Sicily. The final composition of whichever government is formed (and its longevity) will depend on the balance between left and centre. I write about this a bit here and will do so more post-election based on actual results. For now, it’s worth mentioning that a Bersani-Monti coalition would probably aim to reform the voting law before any new election is held.
Unknowns and risk factors:
1) there are still about 5 million undecided voters. I don’t believe this will change the outcome nationally, but it should be kept in mind.
2) there is no historical data to compare M5S polling against results - and polling for Grillo’s movement has shown the widest ranges over the past couple of weeks (13-19%)
3) Support for the far-left Rivoluzione Civile has dropped, and hitting the threshold to enter parliament is now on a knife edge - this trend could favour the centre-left in key regions such as Lombardy.
4) PDL’s internal polling could be right, and everyone else’s wrong, and the centre-right wins the lower house. This is highly unlikely, and comparisons with 2006 are misplaced as there were two coalitions at the time while there are four main coalitions in this election (plus smaller ones) - the dynamics are very different.
5) Should the centre-right win the lower house though, even if Berlusconi’s coalition were to win in all regions that are currently within a margin of error, the centre-right wouldn’t have a majority in the Senate. Yet, winning in all these regions would mean than even with Monti’s support, the centre-left wouldn’t be able to govern.
6) There is an additional scenario where even with Monti’s support the centre-left wouldn’t be able to govern - in addition to a strong centre-right performance, Monti’s coalition performs very poorly in key regions (for example in Sicily and Veneto where Grillo is flying).
4), 5) and 6) would mean a government couldn’t be formed, leading to an interim appointment ahead of new elections within the year.
7) the polls could of course be completely wrong.