Advertisement

You will be redirected to the page you want to view in  seconds.

Left-wing Democratic Party leader Pier Luigi Bersani delivers a speech Tuesday. / AFP/Getty Images

ROME ?? The poor showing of budget-slashing Prime Minister Mario Monti in recent elections has Europe worried that Italy's next government will demand an end to austerity measures that have eased a financial crisis.

Parliamentary elections that ended Monday failed to produce a clear winner and gave an opening for former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi to take part in a new coalition government.

Berlusconi, a wealthy media company owner, was forced out of office in 2011 amid demands from European finance ministers that Italy rein in spending.

The political paralysis in Italy was a major topic in European newspapers. German tabloid Bild reported: "Grand confusion after election. Will they destroy our Euro?" Le Monde in Paris: "Italian election uncertainties shake markets," while Madrid's El Pais said there were "doubts over the future of Italy."

Italians were equally befuddled.

"This is an electorate in panic mode," said Alessandro Bianchi, a 31-year-old hotel porter, who said he voted for comedian-turned-activist Beppe Grillo's party. "This happened because people don't know where to turn. There is no clear path we should be taking."

"When the one thing we needed was certainty and a clear result, what we got was a mess," said Annalaura Vescovo, 40, a homemaker and Pier Luigi Bersani supporter. "Thank you very much. Welcome to Italy."

The muddled results were not welcomed by Italian markets. The blue chip index on the Italian Stock Exchange in Milan fell in trading Tuesday, with shares in banks leading the sell off.

World stock markets and southern European government bonds declined also on fears that the Italy election results would exacerbate the debt crisis in Europe. The yield on Italy's 10-year bonds, the amount investors demand to lend, jumped as well.

The Democratic Party of center-left candidate Bersani was awarded a majority of the 630 seats in the Italian parliament's lower house. But his party received only 121 seats of the 315 -member Senate.

The results mean Bersani will likely be forced to form a governing coalition with either Berlusconi, whose conservative party captured 117 seats, or to Grillo, who won 54 seats.

The results were a rebuke to the polices of Monti, who took 18 seats in the Senate, far too little to join Bersani in a governing coalition.

Monti took over as the head of a technocrat government in 2011 as Berlusconi was being accused of sex parties with prostitutes and leading Italy further into a budgetary crisis. Monti was credited with restoring investor confidence in the country by instituting changes demanded by the European Union.

But his policies of cutting government jobs and programs and reducing pensions were wildly unpopular in Italy. In the recent campaign, Berlusconi and Grillo both promised to lower taxes and reinstate government programs cut by Monti.

Though Bersani's coalition won more votes than any of the other groups, populists Berlusconi and Grillo won a combined 55% of the popular vote.

"I see Italy as a patient in intense pain, in the hospital, on the way to recovery, but begging for morphine," said Javier Noriega, chief economist with Hildebrandt and Ferrar. "These populist campaigns are a kind of morphine."

What's next is unknown. Once the new parliament is seated March 15, Bersani will likely be asked to try to form a governing majority. If he fails, there is a small possibility he could form a minority government with the backing of supporters of other candidates.

But that is unlikely given the contention between Italy's parties.

In such circumstances another election can be held relatively quickly in the hope that the results would put a party in a stronger position to form a government. But that cannot happen during the last six months of a president's term.

The term of Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, 87, ends May 15. For new elections to occur he would have to resign so that parliament can elect a new president, who would then dissolve the legislative body that just selected him.

"It's a perfect storm," said Roberto D'Alimonte, a political scientist with LUISS University in Rome. "Every factor lines up to create a perfectly unstable situation that leaves very few options short of a continued stalemate."



Copyright 2014 USATODAY.com

Read the original story: Italy election uncertainty fuels fears in Europe

More In

test

Real Deals

Flip, shop and save on specials from your favorite retailers in central Ohio.

GET DEALS | COUPONS

Things To Do

SAT
30
SUN
31
MON
1
TUE
2
WED
3
THU
4
FRI
5

CLASSIFIEDS

Classifieds from across Central Ohio
Lancaster
Chillicothe
Newark
Marion
Bucyrus
Mansfield
Zanesville
Coshocton

Weeklies & Shoppers

10TV Headlines

Dispatch Headlines

METROMIX