The European elections in Italy

The European elections in Italy

Lucrezia Quarato May 2019

The European elections in Italy took place on 26 May 2019. Five constituencies were established, each including 2 to 5 regions and each electing a fixed number of MEPs to add to Italy’s total of 73 seats in the European Parliament. Turnout was 56.1%, down from 58.7 % in the last European election in 2014, making Italy one of the few countries where voter engagement decreased.

Compared to the European elections in 2014, the situation has completely changed. In 2014 the governing Democratic Party (PD) of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi won the elections with 40.8% of the votes, being assigned 31 seats. As a result, the PD was the second largest national party in the European Parliament by number of seats after the German CDU/CSU and the largest among the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D).

However, the 2018 Italian general election was characterised by a strong showing for populist parties and this result was reflected in the 2019 European election with the junior coalition partner League expected to take 29 MEPs to Brussels, putting it on a par with the UK’s Brexit party and the CDU/CSU in Germany. Conversely, the senior coalition partner Five Stars Movement collapsed compared to the peaks reached in the national elections of 2018 losing six million voters.

From an EU perspective, there will be a huge change, with the League’s 28 seats going to the right-wing ENI political group compared to the 5 they had in the past mandate, followed by the S&D (PD) with 19 and EFDD (5 Stars Movement), with 14 seats. Only 7 seats are expected to go to the EPP, with 5 for the ECR. The Liberals, Greens and far-left GUE/NGL are not expected to have any Italian representative in the European Parliament.

Italy is the only large EU Member State country where populist achieved a majority of the votes and seats. As these parties, the League and M5S, do not belong to the established political groups, Italy’s influence in the European Parliament and Commission is at its lowest ebb. The League, under Salvini, may be vocal, but will not be able to exert influence.