Different government coalitions are arithmetically possible, but a hung Parliament is the most likely scenario.
Italy’s election results do not allow the political forces to form a stable majority. Indeed, while the 5 Star Movement triumphs as first single party, the center-right coalition comes first, but nobody can secure the majority in the Parliament.
Winners and losers
The real winners of the vote are the anti-establishment party led by Luigi Di Maio and Matteo Salvini’s euroskeptic Northern League, which defeated Silvio Berlusconi in the coalition’s internal challenge. The other biggest loser of the electoral turnout is the outgoing governmental Democratic Party.
By those numbers, a broad coalition government between the Democratic Party and Forza Italia is impossible. Therefore, the preferred scenario by the international observers should be ruled out without the inclusion of an anti-establishment party.
Another possibility would be to form an ‘odd couple’ between the Democrats and the Five Star Movement, as both forces would have the seats required to govern. However, the center-left MP Ettore Rosato ruled out this possibility: ‘We are alternative to the 5SM, so we will be at the opposition’.
Finally, the bogeyman of this election is a coalition between the populists. Indeed, the Northern League and the Five Star Movement would have the minimum numbers to set up a coalition, but this would represent an existential breakup for Salvini’s party. The Northern League is historically allied with Forza Italia, with whom they administer different regions and municipalities together, so the move is considered dangerous for the future of the party.
In addition, the Five Star Movement pleged during the electoral campaign not to form coalitions with any party. Indeed, Di Maio declared in January that the only option they will consider is to put forward the party’s program to be backed from other political forces.
A hung parliament
In conclusion, different coalition governments are arithmetically possible, but the scenario of a hung parliament and drawn out negotiations is the most likely one, as we predicted before the vote. The role of the President of the Republic will thus be crucial. Sergio Mattarella will have to appeal to responsibility and convince the party leaders to form a temporary national unity government. This solution would allow Italy to take time, to enact another electoral law and to go back to the polls as soon as possible.