The broken Italian democracy

Many comments circulate around the world today on the stalemate Italian elections, and even much more interesting is the news from the markets. But the main news is not the blocked parliament, but the mechanism of blocking it. This mechanism shows the full destruction of the Italian political system that explains also the economic troubles and the inevitable default of this country.

Just look at the results in the lower chamber. The leftish coalition has 29,5% of votes and wins 54% of deputies seats in Parliament. The right coalition has 29,1% and wins only 18,5% of the deputies. The third party has 25,5% and only 17,3% of the deputies. And the fourth has 10,5% of votes, that grants only 7,4% of deputies.

In Senate the situation is much different, and even more absurd. There the second as votes party (Berlusconi) takes more seats (116) than the first (Bersani) party – 113. The 25% support of the third party brings only 17% of senators and the 10% support of the fourth brings only less than 6% of the senators…

Is this a democracy? Is it possible such a political system to be analyzed and to rely on it. In fact investors in Italian debt must rely exactly on this.

Most of analysts call the left coalition the “winner”. But in fact the socialists are not winning. They are just taking an enormous bonus of about a quarter of the seats in the lower chamber, that makes them just a powerful saboteur of the creation of the government. In fact if the rest 3 coalitions decide to form a government they could not do this, even having together 2 times more votes than the socialists. So isn’t it funny a coalition taking less than 30% to have a majority, only thanks to leading by a 0,4%?

And isn’t it even more funny, a coalition that is second as votes, to take more seats than the winner in Senate?

The Italian political system has always been a subject of jokes. So politicians tried to repair it by changing the electoral law. But as we see from the results, this intervention is disastrous. The law itself created a mess much bigger than it would be under the old law that distributed the seats proportionally.

It is just not a democracy. It is a broken democracy. Democracy means a power for the people. It does not mean complex electoral rules that create a legislature totally differentiating from the people’s will.

The democracy has the advantage of being relatively predictable. Investors can order polls to scan the public opinion and take decisions upon this information. So when they see the left parties have less than 30%, may be the country is a good place for putting money. But when you have a system that makes a gift for the winner so he can get at least 54% of the seats (to grant a “stable” government) then the situation becomes very risky. Even with 30% socialists can obtain a majority and take the power. The society could be right as a whole, but if the right parties are divided, then the minority of votes can win the majority of deputies. This bonus system brings the risk of a small and radical party to become ruling even with 20% of the votes. You can see the result of the 3rd party that is only 4% behind the winner. Imagine this joke-party to keep its 25% and Berlusconi and Bersani to have 24,9% each? Then the comic hero Grillo could win :)

Every such a system of bonusing deputies is non-democratic and makes ruling the country harder. The sense of the democracy is that rulers have the support of the people and this makes them efficient. Any system that creates artificial majorities decides just the technical problems of creating a government. It does not decide the political problem of this. And creating a government supported by the nation’s minority just creates a weak government.

And the weak government means a bad place to invest…

Feb 27th 2013

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