Matteo Luigi Napolitano, Professor of International History and Diplomacy at the Molise University, in an interview to ​VNA ​reporters (Photo: VNA)

Rome​ (VNA) - Italian voters will head to the polls on March 4. “With the new electoral law, it will be very hard for any party to get the absolute majority allowing it to rule the country. Hence, coalitions could be a necessary exit strategy”, said Matteo Luigi Napolitano, Professor of International History and Diplomacy at the Molise University (the Università degli Studi del Molise), Italy.

Professor Napolitano made the remarks in an exclusive interview to Vietnam News Agency correspondents in Rome ahead of the Italian general election. 

The following is the full text of the interview. 

1. Professor Napolitano, thank you for accepting the interview. On March 4, Italian voters will head to the polls. In this election, the new election law will be applied. Could you tell us some special points about this law?

Napolitano: The new election law approved on last October 2017 (the so-called "Rosatellum" after the name of its first proponent, Hon. Ettore Rosato) establishes a two-way vote. A 37 percent of the total seats is assigned on a majority basis on one round. The 61 percent of seats is assigned on a proportional basis among those parties and/or coalitions which overcome the legal national threshold for representation.

A remaining 2 percent of seats is reserved for Italians abroad, on a proportional basis.

According to the current law, voters cannot choose directly their own representatives, whose names are given in advance by respective parties and coalitions.

2. According to many recent opinion polls, the centre-right coalition will lead in this general election, but a hung parliament will likely be an outcome. What do you think about this? Could you point out the most scenarios for the general election? Who could become the next Prime Minister of Italy?

Napolitano: I should say that, with this electoral law, it will be very hard for any party to get the absolute majority allowing it to rule the country. Hence, coalitions could be a necessary exit strategy.

According to the polls, it is probable that the Five-Star Movement gets a limited relative majority, hence insufficient to allow it to rule the country. The fact is that this movement has clearly declared that it doesn't intend to make alliances with any other party, but that should only welcome an eventual "external" support by those parties sharing the Five-Star government's programme.

Of course, in such a situation, it would be very difficult to give the country a Government, since a winning Five-Star Movement could not betray its own electoral promises. And its promises are quite simple: Not to secure any alliance with anybody.

But if the Five-Star Movement gets a relative majority and its Government roadmap fails, President Sergio Mattarella could consider it possible to entrust an exploratory mandate to the party/coalition on the second rank in the ballot results, and this could probably be the case of the centre-right coalition, more inclined to try to build a government coalition with the Democratic Party (PD). Anyway, it is up to President Mattarella to decide according to his own constitutional prerogatives.

3. In recent years, the populism is rising in Europe and even in the world, like in France, America, the Netherlands and Germany. What’s about the populism in Italy, in particular the Five-Star Movement? What are the risks that populism could create for Italy and Europe?

Napolitano: Populism in Italy is a phenomenon not confined to the Five-Star Movement only. During last Italian electoral campaign, every party and every coalition ventured to make unsustainable promises for getting support by the uncertain voters. Newspapers were daily filled with glaring proposals coming from every political side. If we consider things wisely, we should say that since long-time populism is a recurring “Leitmotiv” of Italian politics, under the guise of unrealistic promises. Paradoxically, on the internal stage, the risk is lower than in our relations with Europe. Italians know very well that the main part of populist promises they heard during the last weeks could not be realised. But Europeans are not “on the spot” with Italian politics as Italians themselves are. Europeans are, so to speak, “étrangèrs aux affaires” and could not understand that populism made with unattainable promises was created for electoral aims and that those promises are not real politics. This said, for Europe the question remains – how will Italian politics be vis-à-vis Europe?

4. The Government of Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni has made some achievements for Italy in the past year, like enhancing the role of Italy on the international arena and improving the domestic economy. What are the hopes of Italian people right now? Which issues that they wish the next government will solve? 

Napolitano: Undoubtedly, Prime Minister Gentiloni attained some achievements and his well balanced figure somehow allowed Italy to put his predecessor’s blatant presence into oblivion. But of course, Mr. Gentiloni also benefited of the improving economic situation all around Europe and on the global market. Hence his good results need to be somehow downsized, especially comparing Italy’s growth to the other European Countries.

In this framework, it is easy to perceive Italians people's hopes.

Italian people need lower taxation levels and lively bureaucratic procedures for business companies. Italy also needs conspicuous and more solid financing policies for her educational system (public schools and universities), after years of spending-cutting policies.

It is also necessary and urgent not to differ policies which could save jobs and reduce unemployment. Last but not least, Italian common feeling is to find appropriate and effective ways to fight against tax frauds, a widespread phenomenon that reached unsustainable levels in Italy.

Another problem is to watch out against Fascism’s backfirings, a very worrying phenomenon that shows how hard is for people to keep common memory healthy and safe for future generations. - VNA