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  • Writer's pictureThe Bridge Burford

The Italian Electoral System


Politics in Italy, with so many parties participating in the voting , is not so straightforward as one would think which means that the electoral scheme is rather complicated, as will be the case on 26th May in Potenza Picena, where municipal elections will be held for who is to run the city council by confirming the mayor in charge or by electing a new mayor.

I shall not delve into every single aspect of the electoral voting system in Italy, even because I too am not that well familiar with all the exceptions relating to individual areas that have, for geographical, political or historical reasons, systems that differ from the rest of the country. However to keep it simple may I just say that every Italian is faced with having to go to the polling station at least in four distinct moments (general elections, regional elections, provincial elections and municipal elections.) five if we consider European elections.

The percentage of voters at one time was very high, between 80% to 85%, but as of late, since the scandal of “Mani Pulite” (Clean Hands) in the early nineties, which saw the principal ruling parties decapitated in their leaders owing to an organised system of bribery in cahoots with industrial entrepreneurs, this participation has gradually dropped to around 60/65% (in some areas even less).

Potenza Picena is gearing for municipal elections to be held on 26 May, when the five year term of the present city council expires to be either voted in again or give way to a different winning party, or civic lists in case of a coalition (which is always the case as a single party or civic list has rarely the possibility of reaching this goal owing to divided voters amongst so many candidates, although one candidate mayor can be head of more than one party or list!).

After a run of fifteen years, which saw the centre left party, “Partito Democratico”, rule the city affairs by winning three local elections on the trot since 2.000, it wasn’t until May 2014 that Potenza Picena faced a new entry led by a right wing majority under the party named “Fratelli d’Italia”. The new mayor was a young prominent figure in his party, Francesco Acquaroli who was later to move on to become a Member of Parliament after political national elections which were held in March 2018. Having stood in for general elections and thanks to a curious system of jostling names, the then mayor could choose either to remain mayor of Potenza Picena, or opt for a seat in Parliament which he did leaving the deputy mayor, Noemi Tartabini, to take over in Potenza Picena in his place.

As Potenza Picena has a population of just over 15.000 (16.000 more or less, under 15.000 the voting system is slightly different) we vote with the majority system for the mayor, whoever obtains 50% of the votes is elected mayor immediately. Should no mayor candidate get this percentage then the two most voted go to the ballot which takes place two weeks after. In this case the candidate who obtains most votes is elected mayor. 60% of the seats go to the list(s) linked with the winning candidate, the rest of the seats go to the other list(s) according to the proportion of votes by them obtained. The non -voted candidate mayor of all the losing links become automatically municipal councillors as long as their list has one at least one seat. Once all these seats are accounted for then the rest of the seats are divided among the various candidate councillors according to the preference received.

Before inviting the readers to click onto the website www.the where he/she will find the third part, “Why Italy sided with the Entente Cordial” of the saga “Italy in the First World”, may I take this opportunity to inform the good people of Burford that this year a small team of three top professional photographers from Potenza Picena will be prowling around the grounds where the Burford Festival will be held to immortalise and bring back to Italy the atmosphere of a Grand British Countryside Festival. With the usual courtesy and welcome that so distinguishes this area of the Country I’m more than sure that their stay will be met by many hearty greetings and sincere kindness. Thank you.

George Dernowski


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