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Italy to hold elections on March 4
December 14, 2017
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ROME: Italy’s parliament will be dissolved between Christmas and the New Year, a parliamentary source said on Wednesday, opening the way for national elections in early March that look unlikely to throw up a clearcut winner.

The source said the most likely date for the vote was March 4, but added that March 11 remained a possibility, with a final decision due shortly.

A national election must be held by May, but most political parties are keen to hold elections as soon as possible, with the last major piece of legislation, the 2018 budget, scheduled to be approved before the end of the year.

“A vote on March 4? That would be excellent. The sooner we go to the polls the better,” said Matteo Salvini, head of the far-right Northern League party.

Italy’s 10-year bond yield rose to a two-week high on the election reports, with investors concerned about political uncertainty in the euro zone’s third biggest economy.

Former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s centre-right alliance is seen winning the most seats at the forthcoming ballot, opinion polls say, however he looks unlikely to secure enough votes to hold an absolute majority.

The anti-establishment 5-Star Movement is predicted to emerge as the largest single party in the next parliament, but has always ruled out joining any coalition.



ITALY AT A CROSSROADS



Support for the ruling centre-left Democratic Party (PD), headed by former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, has fallen steadily in recent months, with the group heavily penalised by deep schisms and personality clashes.

The parliamentary source, who was in contact with President Sergio Mattarella, said the head of state would almost certainly dissolve both houses after Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni had held a traditional end-of-year news conference, set for Dec. 28.

Gentiloni will remain as a caretaker prime minister until a new government is formed, helping to guarantee political stability in the interim.

Italy’s economy is finally pulling clear of years of recession and is expected to post growth of 1.5 per cent this year and next — still lagging most of its euro zone peers.

Employers’ association Confindustria warned on Wednesday that the recovery could be jeopardised by political uncertainty.

“The next elections will be very important, placing the country at a crossroads, with one path leading to a continuation of reforms and the other leading nowhere,” it said in a report, warning parties against pursuing “demagogic measures.”

Political leaders have already made a rash of promises that economists warn could damage the country’s fragile finances, including pledges of generous handouts for pensioners and large tax cuts.

Reuters

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