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The biggest fear of world markets is that somehow the Italian election (which starts today and ends tomorrow afternoon) will end in chaos. We outlined some of the scenarios here.Since no party is that popular, the next government will have to be formed via coalition, which is pretty standard in European parliamentary politics.
To facilitate the formation of coalitions, and to help a government have some semblance of stability, some parliaments award the top vote getting party a “bonus” number of seats in parliament.
Greece does this for example. Which ever party comes in first gets an extra 50 seats in parliament.
In Italy, which ever party gets the plurality of votes is automatically given 55% of the seats in the Lower house of parliament. So the lower House is not really a concern. Assuming the PD (the centre-left party) gets the majority of votes, they’ll control the lower House.
But in the upper house, the Italian Senate, things get weird.
The bonus is awarded by region. So if your party wins in Sicily, you get extra Sicily seats. But on the national level, there’s no bonus. So you could have a situation where, say, the centre-left party gets the majority of the votes, but where the conservative party (Berlusconi’s PDL) does well in big states like Lombardy, and gets huge numbers of extra seats from those states, and prevents the winning party from having a grip on the Senate.
And this is a distinct possibility. Berlusconi and his conservative allies run well in the North, including Lombardy, which has such a significant role in the election that people in Italy refer to it as the “Ohio of Italy.” Polls there are close, but if the liberal party does well around the country, but slightly fall behind in a couple polls, there could be serious electoral chaos.
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