24 February, 2013

Italy votes

Italy goes to the polls today and tomorrow in the strangest election in its history. The protagonists are a veteran left winger who while a minister pushed through reforms the right didn't dare; a 75 year old billionaire; a university professor who will be 70 when the new government is sworn in and a comedian. Bersani, head of the Partito Democratico and former minister in the Prodi government, is the youngest at 61.

It is illegal to publish polls for the two weeks before the election, but not illegal to conduct a poll and have it leaked. In this way we hear rumours, and the most common one is that Beppe Grillo will come second to Bersani, with Berlusconi third and Monti way behind on around 12%. In some ways this is good for Italy: the markets would be pleased if Bersani had to do a deal and Mario Monti got his name on the notepaper.

On the other hand, only stable governments can enact reform and this doesn't look stable. If Berlusconi and Grillo have sufficient blocking votes they can cause no end of trouble. The most likely scenario is that Italy will be voting again before long.

It is snowing in many parts of the country and people don't seem enthusiastic.

We should know something on Tuesday morning.

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