The recent elections in Italy surprised many Italians and have dumbfounded observers around the world. The center-left coalition led by Luigi Bersani seemed poised to win the elections, but did not come out as a clear winner. The resurgence of Silvio Berlusconi is especially shocking to people familiar with Italy but living outside of the country. Beppe Grillo’s Cinque Stelle movement has surged forward, gaining a whopping 25.6 percent of the vote. In Italy’s multiparty parliamentary system, this represents the largest vote for any single political party. But Grillo is not joining any coalitions, leaving the fate of the next government uncertain.
Commentators in the United States and the United Kingdom often like to poke fun at Italian politics, often with good reason.
But, an article by Alexander Stille in the current New Yorker questions: “Maybe Italy’s Politicians Aren’t Crazier Than Ours.” Stille examines Italian politics as a laboratory for political innovations (good and bad) that later spread internationally.