Lorenzo & his humble friends

The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool

Tag: elections

Elections in Europe: wrap up

Against all the odds, a relatively large percentage of Europeans voted in 2019.

The average turnout is 50.5% across the EU. This number is much higher than that of 2014, when only 42% of those who have the right to vote went to the polls. The clearest gains were recorded in Spain, Romania, Hungary, Poland, France and Germany.


This finally bucks a 40-year negative trend. Falling participation has made a mockery of the Parliament’s claims to represent the real voice of public opinion. This year’s election represents the higher turn-out than any other European Parliament election since 1994.

Screenshot 2019-05-27 at 16.38.00.png

The results proved more complicated than “march of the populists” narrative.

Almost all left populist parties did worse than five years, from Syriza in Greece (down from 26% in 2014 to 23%) to Podemos in Spain (down from 8% to 6%) and Jeremy Corbyn’s version of the Labour Party (from 24% in 2014 to 14%).

For right wing populist the scenario is mixed. They emerge as clear winners in Italy, where the Lega is the first party with 34% of the votes high from 6% of 2014. They also win big in Hungary with Fidesz at 53% and in Poland with Jarosław Kaczyński’s Law and Justice at 45%.

Yet, far right wing populist’s wins must not be exaggerated. In France, the Le Ressemblement National is the first party but has a lower percentage of votes than in 2014. In Austria, the FPÖ lost substantially when compared to 2014. So did the Party for Freedom in the Netherlands. In Germany, the AfD gained just as much as it did in 2014.

Overall, the three existing Eurosceptic groups – which include Poland’s government (the ECR), Italy’s Lega (the ENF) and Marine Le Pen’s Ressemblement National (EFDD) – will make up around 25 per cent of the chamber, some 5 percent points more than 2014. They are not the third largest group in the European Parliament that had been predicted by some.

The centre holds – but it is a new and more dynamic centre.

Any commission president will need 376 votes to secure the absolute majority needed in parliament. In the end, a disparate pro-European centre gained new members and largely held firm in the face of its biggest threat from anti-establishment parties. The pro-EU parties hold around two-thirds of seats. Yes, the People’s Party and the Socialist Group in the Parliament lost the majority; but they can still govern comfortably if they manage to struck a deal with the liberals and/or with the greens. Credit for the two images below goes to Politico and to the Financial Times.

Screenshot 2019-05-27 at 16.59.54.png

In the end, this elections look just like Ivan Krastev had written on L’Internazionale last week, citing the 1911 novel “Gertrude the Governess”: Lord Ronald said nothing; he flung himself from the room, flung himself upon his horse and rode madly off in all directions. European politics is recombining in new ways and directions. The rise of the right-wing populists is part of that but not, in this election, a particularly new or dynamic one. European voters rather seem to go a bit everywhere, from socialism in Spain to environmentalism in Germany, far right in Italy, and liberalism in the UK.


Who are the winners?

Green parties almost everywhere.
The Lib-dems in the UK.
Matteo Salvini’s Lega in Italy.
Viktor Orban’s Fidesz in Hungary.
The Socialist party in Portugal, Spain, and the Netherlands.

Who are the losers?

Labour and Tories in the UK.
The centre-right party in France, Italy, and Spain.
5SM in Italy.
AfD in Germany.
Syriza in Greece.

Is Italy Europe’s new heart of darkness?

Yes. At the moment, there is no clear alternative project to the Lega’s hegemonic regressive views on territorial inequalities and migration.


Italians abroad do it differently.

While in Italy the Lega emerged as first party with 34% of the votes, the PD at 22% and the 5SM at 17%, Italian abroad voted for the PD (30%) ahead of Lega (19%) and 5SM (15%). Funny, if you think that they were given the right to vote in 2001 by a far right minister who had hoped to mobilise fascist nostalgia abroad.


euandi2019 is a Voting Advice Application built by some good friends of mine to help citizens make an informed choice in the 2019 European Parliament elections. Take the test and next time we see each other we speak about your results. Mine are below.


I was looking for good articles to share with you after the Italian elections of March 4. Not much. In a blatant act of self-promotion, I would simply recommend a short read and an interview (minute 11:30) I’ve made on Radio France International together with Fabio and professor D’Alimonte. In addition, I would also suggest a deeper read by Old Tom on the politics of frustration.

I am going to miss you

You have heard an awful lot about the President of the United States over the past eight years, but the substance of his policies remains badly misunderstood both at home and abroad. Barack Obama is often criticised for failing to deliver on the hope-and-change rhetoric that inspired so many voters in 2008. Indeed, his policies have been less glamorous than Donald Trump’s plan for a wall along the Mexican border or Bernie Sanders’ promise of free college for all. Yet, the reality is that Barack Obama has engineered a series of changes that have profoundly affected the US and the world we live in.

When he was elected in 2008 there was a lot of healing to do: the US had lost one war in the Gulf and was losing another in Afghanistan. In a poll of 19 countries, two thirds had a negative view of America. Back at home, the financial system was on the brink of collapse and the labour market was on free fall, with unemployment at 7.8% and rising.

Upon taking his seat in the White House, Obama pushed through and signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. He guided the massive TARP financial and banking rescue plan to force financial organizations to pay back virtually all bailout money and rescued the car manufacturing sector. Unemployment today is 4.9% and falling, just like the federal deficit, which has been reduced from 9.8% of GDP in 2009 under Bush, to 2.5% of GDP in 2015. After having secured the economy, Obama relaxed relations with Cubaexecuted Osama bin Laden, reached a nuclear deal with Iran and vastly improved America’s standing in the world. Ten million adults now have health insurance because of the Affordable Care Act and although 13.9% of Americans remain uninsured, this is still a drop from 18.9% in 2013. Obama indefinitely deferred the deportation of the parents of children who are either US citizens or legal residents, and expanded that protection to children who entered the country illegally with their parents (the Dream Act). He eventually spoke out forcefully for gun control and appointed two women to the Supreme Court, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina. Meanwhile, Janet Yellen is now the first woman to preside over the Federal Reserve. In the field of energy resources, wind and solar power are set to triple.

There are, of course, other facts to contend with. Immigration and citizenship have not been reformed. In foreign policy, US troops are still in Afghanistan, while there has been a 700% increase in drone strikes in Pakistan (not to mention Yemen, Somalia and elsewhere) and Guantanamo Bay remains operative. Obama’s dithering in Libya and Syria did not do much to stop chaos and terror, which then spilled over into Iraq. After the Wikileaks scandal, Obama used the 1917 Espionage Act to prosecute more than twice as many whistleblowers as all previous presidents combined and he deported more people than any president in US history. Importantly, wealth inequality and income inequality are massively on the rise, while corporate profits keep rocketing. A lot of work remains to be done.

In spite of these setbacks, Obama has produced a quiet revolution, changing the way Americans live. Gay soldiers can now serve openly in the military, insurers can no longer deny coverage because of pre-existing conditions, markets no longer believe the biggest banks are too big to fail, solar energy installations are up, carbon emissions have dropped, and so have unemployment and the federal deficit. These are only some of the many accomplishments of President Barack Obama’s policies. The quiet change he delivered is enormous.

When thinking of this legacy, however, we should not forget about the fundamental political revolution that Obama brought about. This is something that has been already noticed by David Brooks and duly reported on this blog. In Obama, and in his egregious family and staff, we are losing someone who took public service both seriously and gracefully. January will be the end of the line for a leader who believed that facts mattered and that politics can be done with a ethos of integrity, humanity, good manners and elegance.


All my votes

Although I have commented on the possible outcome, I have not decided what I will vote in the upcoming elections: I am officially undecided. Meanwhile, borrowing an idea of Francesco Costa, I am drafting a list of how I voted in the past.

9-10 April 2006
Italian Political Elections
I voted for the centre-left coalition and for the candidate Prime Minister Romano Prodi, who defeats Silvio Berlusconi with a difference of 0.06% of the votes. Today I would give the same vote. Election won.

25-26 June 2006
Constitutional Referendum
Deciding whether or not to approve the constitutional reform promoted by the center-right government: I did not know much about the reform, but my vote was based on the fact that it had been approved by a majority that I did not like and that had been rejected by the voters. I voted No, and No won with 61%. Today I would probably give the same vote. Election won.

25-26 June 2006
Local Referendum
Deciding whether the province of Trento should continue to finance private schools: I am not necessarily against public finance even for private confessional schools, but the total amount provided with public money was outrageous. I voted Yes to the abolition of public finance for private schools, and 93% of the voters vote Yes, but the referendum fails as it does not reach the quorum: only 19% of the people vote. Today I would give the same vote. Election lost.

13-14 April 2008
Italian Political Elections
I voted for the Partito Democratico and for the candidate Prime Minister Walter Veltroni. His party takes 33%, but is part of the  loser coalition: Silvio Berlusconi is elected Prime Minister. Today I would give the same vote. Election lost.

09-10 September 2008
Local elections in the Province of Trento
I voted for the Partito Democratico and for the coalition that supports Lorenzo Dellai. The party takes 22% of the votes, and the coalition takes 57%, defeating the opposing candidate Sergio Divina. Today I would give the same vote. Election won.

3 May 2009
Local elections in the City of Trento
I was in Ireland for my exchange abroad and I could not vote. The Partito Democratico’s candidate Alessandro Andreatta won the elections with 64%.

6-7 June 2009
European elections
I was in Ireland for my exchange abroad and I could not vote. The Partito Democratico went well, although it is always hard to comment on European elections.

21-22 June 2009
The vote was about future referendum rules and it proposed to make them easier. I voted Yes, but the quorum stopped at 23% and the referendum failed. Today I would give the same vote. Election lost.

12-13 June 2011
Four questions: two on the management of water resources, one on nuclear energy and one on legitimate impediment. I voted Yes to the first question on the water and one on legitimate impediment, I voted No to the second question on the water and on the one on nuclear energy. Yes wins in all four questions and with more than 55% of the people going to vote, the quorum is (surprisingly) reached. Today I would give the same vote. Election half won and half lost.