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4 things you need to know about EU elections in Italy

Posted: May 23, 2019 by Instinctif Partners

By Lucia Medori

The 2019 EU election in Italy will be held this Sunday, 26 May 2019, electing members of the 9th Italian delegation to the European Parliament (in conjunction with Piemonte regional elections and the local elections in Trentino-Alto Adige). The vote is expected to bring some changes within the Italian delegation as well as to test the real appeal of far-right populist parties currently leading the polls.

The Italian voting system

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) are elected according to national electoral systems. The party-list proportional representation (traditional electoral system of the Italian Republic from 1946 to 1994) has been the norm for electing Italian MEPs since 1979. In addition, Italy allows preferential voting, which gives the voters the option to indicate their preferences within the party list they choose. Candidates who receive the most preferences are more likely to be elected. The system implies 2 levels to allocate the seats: a national level to divide the seats among parties and a constituency level to distribute them among candidates in open lists. In Italy there are five constituencies, each including 2–5 regions and each electing a fixed number of MEPs. Voters choose among candidates on the lists of their constituency of residence:

  • North-West (20 seats)
  • North-East (15 seats)
  • Central Italy 15 seats)
  • South (18 seats)
  • The islands (8 seats)

EU election in Italy in numbers:

  • 76 (+3) seats: the UK is taking part in the elections because it delayed the date of its exit from the EU, but once Brexit happens, and British MEPs leave the European Parliament 3 of their seats will be allocated to Italy.
  • 18 political parties: from mainstream parties like Forza Italia and Partito Democratico to the Italian Pirate Party and the far-right Casapound (here the full lists).
  • 4%: In the run-up to the 2009 European Parliament election, the Italian Parliament introduced a national threshold of 4% of the vote for political parties to entry into the Assembly.

What do the polls say?

Lega, led by Matteo Salvini, has emerged as the dominant political force. Recent polls indicate that it will become the largest Italian delegation within the European Parliament, with 25 MEPs. The Five Star Movement could win up to 19 seats. Berlusconi’s party Forza Italia (FI) is expected to win 7 seats for the EPP. And what about Partito Democratico? In 2014, the governing Democratic Party (PD) of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi won the election with 40.8% of the vote and 31 seats, becoming the largest national delegation within the S&D and the second largest in the whole assembly (after the German CDU/CSU within the EPP). This year’s projection predicts a very different result, with a a decrease of 42% in the seats for the party (from 31 to 18 seats).

What are the main issues debated by the Italian candidates?

In many ways, the EU election campaign in Italy is just a continuation of the national elections held last March. The campaign has largely focused on immigration, followed by social reforms, 2019 budged agreement, defence and a renewed partnership between Europe and Africa. There is no doubt that the election results will be crucial for current government’s future and for the fragile coalition between Lega and 5 Star Movement.

Do not know who to vote for? Il Sole24Ore has a quick test for you

Need more information on EU election? Check out our latest report – and enjoy the read!