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Questo articolo è stato pubblicato il 22 febbraio 2013 alle ore 08:33.


The countdown to the elections is something out of the ordinary. At the end of the campaign, instead of counting the number of days or hours left before going to the polls, the Italians – among others – are chasing other numbers: those illegal polls which since February 9 have been circulating behind the scenes. The anomaly? Up to two weeks prior to the election, both the electorate and the markets were bombarded by polls that had at best only a limited amount of accuracy.

Then the black-out. After a two week absence of official polls, the swing is widespread making the markets nervous. These days, more than the agendas themselves, the questions on the lips of voters is «what share of the votes do parties get?»: has the PD gone up or down? Is the comeback of Berlusconi on the rise or on the skids? The Grillo phenomenon, measured by TV coverage of packed squares, will it become the second or the third party in Italy?
In the City unofficial surveys, coming from what appear to be authoritative sources in Italy, give the PD/SEL/Monti coalition a small majority in the Senate, putting it at the limits of governability.
Without hard facts it is perhaps better to rely on instinct and experience and not on surveys of dubious origin, or reliability. It is better to pay attention to political commentators and historians, who know Italian political life well. As such, according to predictions prevalent among "neutral" experts (or those at least not blatantly on the right or left) it is possible that the situation pictured in the latest polls has not changed a great deal: the gap between center-left and center-right is still just a handful of points. If this is the case, the outcome of the election will be what financial markets expect it to be: a comfortable majority of the center-left coalition both in the lower house and the upper house.

The governability of Italy, however, must also be measured in other terms, not just numbers and seats. It remains to be seen what kind of opposition will be set up by the center-right coalition (PDL and Lega Nord) and Beppe Grillo's Movimento 5 Stelle: both will have an important part to play in Parliament. Finally, governance, expressed in terms of structural reforms for economic growth, will have to compete with the coexistence of the "odd couple", that being SEL's "red" leader Nichi Vendola and the moderate Professor Mario Monti.
Only hours before the vote, the existence of black-out polls exacerbates another Italian anomaly, making it even more difficult to draw reliable predictions: the abnormality of electoral rules that determine the distribution of seats in the House and Senate. Those who collect only a few votes but still come first secure an absolute majority in the lower house, whereas those with a lot of votes are not sure of having an absolute majority in the upper house.
(Traduzione di James Tierney)

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