One week after the vote, although - among recounts and appeals - some minor surprises we may still have, the scenario is sufficiently defined to outline a picture of the winners and losers in the recently concluded election round.
Brothers of Italy
Among the winners stands out, undoubtedly, Giorgia Meloni, who, on the strength of the 26 percent obtained by Fratelli d'Italia, can aspire to become the first woman at the head of an Italian executive. An extraordinary result when one considers that, only four years ago, the party of the tricolor flame stood at 4.3 percent nationwide.
On the other hand, among the losers is commonly numbered Enrico Letta, who pays for his inability to build a sufficiently broad coalition to be competitive in the single-member constituencies, but also discounts some questionable communication choices. Indeed, the PD campaign proved useful at best in compacting and mobilizing the most ideologized part of the area electorate, but it totally missed the goal of engaging the undecided and fishing in the large pool of abstentionism.
The tagline "Choose", centerpiece of the Dem campaign, turned out - in my opinion - to be a real boomerang: in a context of disaffection with politics and widespread disaffection with the country's ruling class, to address the voter with an imperative ("Choose!") without appearing arrogant and self-referential would require very strong personal credibility, which Letta clearly lacks.
It must be acknowledged, however, that in the face of a reduction in the absolute number of votes and the number of MPs, in percentage the PD has even seen a very slight growth, rising from 18.8 percent in 2018 to 19 percent today. Therefore, although he manifestly lost the election, the now resigning Letta led the PD certainly to a political defeat, but not to an electoral carnage: it can be concluded, in essence, that Letta turned out to be a "good loser."
Five Star Movement
Giuseppe Conte, on the other hand, with the 5-Star Movement settling at 15.5 percent (a better-than-expected performance, albeit far from the 32.4 percent in 2018) is generally listed among the winners. Undoubtedly we are talking about a more than positive result for a party that has been in a crisis of consensus for more than three years, long below 10 percent in the polls and moreover fresh from the split led by former party leader and current Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio.
Thanks to Conte and his electoral campaign, perfectly centered on a well-defined target -that area of social distress, present all over the country but percentage-wise more relevant in the South, which sees the Citizenship Income as a godsend - the Five Star Movement still represents, in terms of real votes, the third political force in the country.
At the level of parliamentary representation, however, Conte's party is, similarly to the Democratic Party, suffering defeat in almost all single-member constituencies. For the former prime minister I would speak, therefore, of a halved victory: both face and seat are safe, but the Movement's role in Italian politics is bound to be, at least in the short term, quite marginal.
The real loser, according to much of the Italian press, would instead be Matteo Salvini, who in 4 years has seen the League's electoral consensus halve (from 17.5 percent to 8.8 percent) in favor of ally-rival Giorgia Meloni. Salvini is paying for the numerous changes of course made during the term that has just ended, as well as an election campaign in many ways mirroring that of the Democratic Party and based on a particularly unfortunate slogan ("I believe"), since credibility, today, certainly does not appear to be Salvini's strong point.
Nevertheless, the League still represents the second-largest party in the winning coalition; moreover, the distribution of single-member constituencies in the center-right coalition, defined on the basis of power relations that now belong to the past, has guaranteed the League a large parliamentary delegation, substantially equal to that of the Dems, although they have obtained more than twice as many votes. If, after winning a good number of seats in parliament, Salvini also succeeds in obtaining - for himself and the party - heavyweight ministerships, he will have an important chance to reverse the negative trend and return to growing.
I believe, therefore, that the League leader should still be included among the winners, albeit in the awareness that if he does not calculate his next moves well, his could turn out to be a real Pyrrhic victory.
Finally, Forza Italia also emerges well from the polls: despite the defection of all the three Forza Italia ministers - two of whom joined centrist "Azione" party - Berlusconi's party wins 8.2 percent, coming in almost on a par with Salvini's League and confirming itself as a key piece in holding the future majority.
Bitter defeat, by contrast, for former PM Matteo Renzi and his ally Carlo Calenda, who together total a 7.7 percent, guaranteeing themselves a parliamentary platform but slipping substantially into irrelevance. Decent result for the alliance of the Greens and "Italian Left", which with a 3.6 percent earned the entrance ticket to Montecitorio and Palazzo Madama. Disappointing performance, on the other hand, for +Europa, which narrowly misses the 3 percent target, thus remaining excluded from parliament: a sign that Italians' confidence toward the dream - but it would be more correct to say "toward the nightmare" - of a European super-state is at an all-time low.
Even worse are "We Moderates" (part of the center-right coalition) and Luigi Di Maio's "Civic Commitment" (part of the center-left one), which do not even reach 1 percent, disproving, if there was still a need, the myth of the need to "moderate" in order to attract voters from a hypothetical center, which, based on the data, turn out to be practically nonexistent.
The subject of individual freedoms
Significant, finally, is the electoral disaster of Italexit (stopped at 1.9 percent) and more generally of all the anti-system and no green pass lists: a sign that the albeit evident aversion of millions of Italians - think simply of the millions of unvaccinated people - toward the restrictions imposed by the Conte and Draghi governments, culminating in the direct and indirect vaccination obligation, does not automatically translate into a massive vote in favor of parties that have made the fight against such abuses the heart of their electoral program.
In fact, it seems that the battle for individual freedoms is, for a large part of the Italian population, important, yes, but not a priority: this would explain why the vote of a large part of the no-Greenpass electorate has turned to Fratelli d'Italia, a party that has maintained over time a position of consistent opposition to the pseudo-sanitary regime so dear to Health Minister Roberto Speranza, but that did not want to give particular space to the issue of protecting individual freedoms during the election campaign.
The theme of the Russian-Ukrainian war
The other finding that emerges from the polls is a different sensitivity between the electorate of the Right and the Left about our country's positioning regarding the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. The Left-wing voters, in fact, appear split almost in half between those who support "pacifist" parties (Five Star Movement and Nicola Fratoianni's Left) and those who support an interventionist line by voting Democratic Party and +Europa. The overwhelming majority of right-leaning Italians, on the other hand, opted for ultra-Atlantist forces such as Brothers of Italy and Forza Italia, while less than 9 percent put their faith in the pragmatic and more prudent positions of the League.
It is not easy to estimate how much the issue of the conflict in Ukraine may have weighed on the voters' choice: however, while believing that the Lega's position corresponds more to Italy's strategic interest than the interventionism of the rest of the center-right coalition, it is evident how the ballot box response portends, on the issue of the conflict, a perfect continuity, on the part of the next coming cabinet, with the Draghi government's policy. With all the worrisome consequences on the security and economic stability of Italy.
Research Fellow at the Machiavelli Center for Political and Strategic Studies, formerly worked as a consultant at European Parliament, Presidency of the Council of Ministers, Chamber of Deputies and Ministry of Economic Development. M.A. in Philosophy at the Catholic University of Milan.