Elections on Sunday in Italy: “We have seen growing indifference and distrust of institutions for several years”, analyzes a specialist

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Elections on Sunday in Italy: “We have seen growing indifference and distrust of institutions for several years”, analyzes a specialist

Four days before the Italian general elections, abstention and indecision dominate. For Marc Lazar, a specialist in Italian history and sociology, this can be explained by a short campaign but also a mistrust of institutions.

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Published on 09/22/2022 18:49 Updated Reading time: 2 min.
Four days before the general elections in Italy, abstention is likely to reach new heights. Even if the far-right party of Giorgia Meloni is given the lead in voting intentions, the undecided are still 45% and the abstention rate could reach 30% this Sunday. An indecision that could potentially “dissolve at the last momentt”, explains Thursday September 22 on franceinfo Marc Lazar, professor emeritus at Sciences-Po, specialist in the history and political sociology of Italy.

franceinfo: How do you analyze this lack of interest in Sunday’s election? Marc Lazar:

This is nothing new. For several elections, we have seen the rise of both this indifference and this distrust of institutions and politics. Recent surveys had shown that only 4% of Italians trusted their political parties. There is also perhaps an important economic element to take into consideration: it is the first time in the history of the Italian Republic that citizens are called upon to vote in the month of September. The campaign as such was therefore relatively short, since in August the Italians are on vacation. All these elements explain this significant forecast of the abstention rate. Even if this indecision can dissolve at the last moment: in previous elections, very often, a large number of Italians have spoken in the very last daysWhere do these undecided voices generally go?
What we know is that the undecided never vote in one camp. A number of political leaders are trying to convince these abstainers. In particular the centre-left party (Democratic Party), whose leader Enrico Letta, constantly appeals to abstainers to block the way for Giorgia Meloni. Does this mistrust explain the weight of the far right and of Giorgia Meloni’s party, which we call sometimes “post-fascist”?

Let’s start by paying attention to the terms: yes, Giorgia Meloni was a fascist, she was socialized in the fascist movement and defended Benito Mussolini. Unquestionably, there are still candidates in this party who are nostalgic for fascism. But all the work she has done is to try to present herself as the candidate of a conservative, traditionalist, even reactionary party. It is important to specify this to also understand why it flies away in the polls.
Today, it’s true, it appears as an alternation. It must be remembered that, since 1994 in Italy, at each election, the Italians have voted for the alternation and have sanctioned the parties which were in power. However, it appears in a way like a new figure. Besides, she’s the only woman in a male environment. Certainly, she was in power in a ministry of youth in a government of Silvio Berlusconi between 2008 and 2011 but many have forgotten that. Therefore, Italians think: ” why not try it?”. After having voted for the right, the left, then having tried a government of quasi-national unity behind Mario Draghi… They want to try something new with Giorgia Meloni.

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