Matteo Renzi didn’t lose the local elections but he also didn’t ‘super win’ like he did in last year’s European polls. The reasons why he did…OK…but not great, are probably not due to him, but a combination of the resuscitation of the Italian far right and part of a wider European malaise.
With Berlusconi’s semi-demise, Renzi was left for a couple of years to be the only kid on the block. Now Italians have found the right wing version of Renzi in Mr. Salvini, leader of the Northern league, a young populist politician widely reputed to have far right views.
Mr. Salvini’s party platform has borrowed planks from a collection of European reactionary parties, including Podemos, Syriza, Front National, UKIP. The difference with the situation in Italy and Britain, though is that Italy’s still very proportional electoral system will give Salvini a lot of MPs in the next elections and he will be a force to be reckoned with.
Come the next general elections, it is likely that it will be a two way fight between Renzi and Salvini, with Grillo’s M5S as a possible party spoiler. Renzi and many Italians may at that point start missing Mr. Berlusconi….