Ousting the centre-left ruling party of Matteo Renzi, the far-right anti-immigrant party- the Northern League (Lega Nord) and Eurosceptic - populist party, the Five Star Movement (MS5) surged in the recent elections held in Italy. The MS5, which received 32.6% votes and the right-wing alliance led by Lega Nord, which got 35.7% have created a puzzling situation with a hung parliament.
The decision now lies with President Sergio Mattarella to determine which among the two are better equipped to form a majority government.
It is not yet clear whether the MS5, that rides on the anti-establishment and Eurosceptic sentiment, will form an alliance with the right-wing alliance. “The centre-right is the coalition that won, it’s the coalition that can govern,” Matteo Salvini of Lega Nord said in a press conference in Milan. According to reports, Luigi Di Maio, the head of the M5S, echoed a similar sentiment pointing towards a possible alliance.
The political impasse in Italy has raised tensions across European Union and its institution, which had a brief sigh of relief as Germany formed a grand alliance. The announcement came after months of political uncertainty as the centre-left SPD was trying to form the government. The new grand alliance, GoKo include the centre-right CDU and its Bavarian CSU sister party.
The ruling party of Renzi was only able to achieve 18.7% votes- a deep blow- as Renzi was once considered a popular politician. He has categorically refused any alliance with the extremist parties and said that the party will sit in the opposition. A marriage of convenience between MS5 and the Renzi’s Democratic Party has not been ruled out by analysts, but such move is likely to face objections from Renzi.
The downfall of the Democratic Party comes at a time when Italy reels under anti-immigrant and far right wing wave. Last month, 28-year-old Luca Traini, a local candidate for the anti-immigrant party Northern League (Lega Nord), drove his car around the city of Macerata while shooting at people of African origin. Six people were injured in the attack, which highlighted the rising danger of fascism in the country.
The month of February also witnessed the release of a new satirical film, “I’m Back,” depicting Mussolini's (founder of fascism) revival in modern day Italy m which sparked ‘controversy and disdain among the anti-fascist protesters’.
Days before the March 4 election Italy, a massive anti-fascist rally was organised in Rome in response to rising far-right movement in the country.
"I’m worried about this fascist and racist revival," said Carla Nespolo, the president of the National Association of Italian Partisans.
"… we need to be united in providing a barrier against xenophobia and fascist nostalgia. This isn’t only an Italian problem: the loss of historical memory concerns Europe in general; 60,000 fascists appeared in the streets of Warsaw on 11 November. It is crucial to be conscious of the risks of a return of fascism."
Political analysts argue that right-wing parties are using their populist, and nationalist rhetoric fueled by the refugee crisis to make inroads into Italy.
Meanwhile, the MS5 also played a crucial role in back fall of Democratic Party as a large number of left supports voted for Maio’s party, which had promised to work for the labour rights.