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Exit polls and preliminary results showed voters gave a strong majority to the country's three main right-wing parties led by the nationalist Brothers of Italy party, which won around a quarter of all votes among more than a dozen parties.

ROME, Sept. 26 (Xinhua) -- A right-wing coalition's strong performance in Sunday's general election in Italy could impact the balance of power within the European Union (EU), but dramatic foreign policy changes are unlikely, leading political analysts said here on Monday.

Amid what is reported to be the lowest voter turnout in the history of the republic, exit polls and preliminary results showed voters gave a strong majority to the country's three main right-wing parties led by the nationalist Brothers of Italy party, which won around a quarter of all votes among more than a dozen parties. That was a dramatic increase from 4.4 percent took by the party in the 2018 election.

The result makes Brothers of Italy leader Giorgia Meloni the odds-on favorite to become Italy's next prime minister.

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According to Gregory Alegi, a professor of history and politics at LUISS University in Rome, the first step after the votes are certified will be for Italy's President Sergio Mattarella to consult with the leaders of the main parties and invite one of them -- most likely Meloni -- to form the next government.

Next, the new leader will present a list of proposed ministers and under-secretaries to Mattarella for his approval. Once that happens, the new prime minister will be sworn in and will face a confidence vote in both houses of Parliament.

"We're most likely looking at a couple of weeks before all those steps can be carried out," Alegi told Xinhua.

Alegi said the parliamentary majority Meloni's party will have is likely to be large enough to defuse significant challenges to her leadership from what he called the likely "junior partners" of her coalition: Matteo Salvini's League (Lega) party and former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia. But Alegi said the parties could threaten to withhold support from her on specific ministerial picks.

Oreste Massari, a political scientist with Rome's La Sapienza University, said that although Meloni has been criticized in other European capitals, Italy's foreign policy -- at least in regard to its European allies -- is unlikely to change much in the short term.

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The professor said a Meloni-led government could shift the balance of power within the 27-nation EU toward Hungary and Poland, perhaps also Sweden, with its own newly-elected right-wing majority. But policy changes are less likely, he said.

Massari said the new government would be "particularly cautious" in the early days to reassure allies and financial markets.

Regarding energy policy, which could be the next government's primary challenge amid rising prices following the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, Massari said Meloni will likely be obligated to continue with the strategy pursued by current caretaker Prime Minister Mario Draghi.

"The only thing Italy can do is to continue what it's been doing. It has to look for alternative sources of natural gas and take steps to diversify its energy mix," Massari said. "It's a major problem heading into winter, but the options are limited."

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