Pundits warn next week's Italy elections might not stand

Mediobanca says broad coalition could trigger new vote

Pundits warn next week's Italy elections might not stand

Milan, February 18 - Pundits are warning that without a strong government emerging from next week's national election, another campaign could soon follow. "The most likely scenario is new elections in the short term," says a report from Mediobanca Banking Group analyst Antonio Guglielmi in London. "With the elections approaching, uncertainty increases". With several major parties dividing the vote, some analysts fear that former premier Silvio Berlusconi may draw enough support to form a coalition and undo many of the economic and fiscal reforms implemented by caretaker Premier Mario Monti. However, the last polls allowed under campaign law suggested Pier Luigi Bersani's Democratic Party (PD) was leading in the days heading into the national vote next Sunday and Monday. If that proves to be the case, the PD could find itself in a short-lived coalition, warned Financial Times columnist Wolfgang Munchau. In a column Monday, Munchau suggested that Bersani would likely need a broad coalition to govern, bringing together conservative forces under Monti as well as left-wing and reformist politicians such as the Left Ecology Freedom (SEL) party founded by Nichi Vendola. Such a unlikely coalition, wrote Munchau, is doomed to the same fate as that of former premier Romano Prodi, who governed for less than two years with a similarly disparate coalition elected in 2006. "So this is the dynamic one week before the elections," writes Munchau. "The likely outcome is a fractious majority of the centre-left, and an anti-austerity, possibly anti-euro right, likely to unite in opposition".

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