Italy prepares for 2018 elections with dissolution of parliament

In a move aimed at preparing for 2018 elections, the president is expected to dissolve the legislature. After several failed governments since the last elections, Italians are hoping for stability and economic growth.
Michelangelo's statue David in front of an Italian flag
Italian President Sergio Mattarella is expected to dissolve parliament on Thursday, paving the way for elections reportedly slated for March 4, 2018.
The elections will mark the first of their kind under the new Rosatellum electoral law, which has been decried by the left-of-center populist Five Star Movement (M5S).
The new law
  • Under the new law, one third of parliament will be elected under a first-past-the-post system, while two thirds will be voted in on a proportional basis.
  • In order to enter parliament, single parties must receive three percent of the national vote while coalitions need to gather 10 percent.
  • The Rosatellum electoral law ended a period of instability stemming from five different voting systems since 2013
M5S founder Beppe Grillo has slammed the new electoral law, saying it undermines his party's ability to make it into parliament
M5S founder Beppe Grillo has slammed the new electoral law, saying it undermines his party's ability to make it into parliament
What Italy's political parties say
The M5S has criticized the upcoming elections, with Senate floor leader Giovanni Endrizzi saying: "The scam electoral law is like a slot machine. You press a button, you think you're choosing but there's software that decides for you and eats your money. Here, they eat your votes."
The center-right Forza Italia party has vowed to return to power, with lawmaker Renato Brunettasaying: "We have done something positive for our country in a moment when political clashes – particularly due to the M5S, which is only capable of protesting and not proposing – show no sign of abating. 2018 will be our return to Palazzo Chigi."
The ruling center-left Democratic Party has taken credit for steering the country out of political turmoil, with Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni saying: "The truth is that Italy has restarted after the most serious economic crisis since World War II."
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What do the polls say: The latest polls show M5S as the party with the most support, hovering around 26 percent, with Democratic Party lagging slightly behind at 25 percent. Polls also show former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia gaining 15 percent of the vote and the anti-immigrant Lega Nord trailing behind with 14 percent.
What is the likely outcome: Analysts have expressed concerns that the results will give way to a hung parliament and further erode political stability in Europe's third-largest economy.
Why is M5S worried about the elections: The populist party has vowed to never join forces with traditional Italian parties, saying they represent a corrupt system. The new party believes that the new law penalizes single parties and encourages coalition governments.
Observers have pointed to growing support across the country for Forza Italia, a party founded and still run by Italy's disgraced ex-premier, Silvio Berlusconi (right)
Observers have pointed to growing support across the country for Forza Italia, a party founded and still run by Italy's disgraced ex-premier, Silvio Berlusconi (right)