Italy, Matteo Renzi, and European election results
Renzi’s triumph has given him a strong mandate and a huge burden of responsibility, in both Italy and Europe
Every five years EU citizens choose who represents them in the European Parliament. Each member state has the right to elect a fixed number of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs). Voting practices vary across the EU, although there are some common elements, the most important of which is that some form of proportional representation should be used, to give larger and smaller political parties the chance to send their representatives to Bruxelles.
A huge number of think thanks have been monitoring these elections in the last few weeks, and the European Council on Foreign Relations (ecfr.eu) in particular has published several analysis on pre- and post-elections issues and results. Discussing about the meaning of these elections for Italy, Silvia Francescon highlighted that although "the political campaign has been mainly focused on internal issues rather than on foreign affairs, [...] it's fair to say that this time Italian politicians have focused a bit more on Europe than in the past".
What is even more important is that these elections ended up being "a referendum on [Matteo Renzi's] leadership, and the result is a much needed legitimation. [Further, the Democratic Party], received 3 millions votes more than the most recent national elections".
According to Ms. Francescon, who also stressed that Grillo's independent 5 Star Movement has been the loser of these consultations, " the Italian electoral results have an impact both at the national and the European level. These elections have been considered by many not much as a referendum on Europe, but as a referendum on PM Renzi, since this is the first time that Matteo Renzi underwent the voters' scrutiny. He was not a member of the Parliament and it was felt that his premiership was lacking of legitimacy, even if of course he won the confidence vote in the Parliament. He passed the referendum brilliantly. In addition, these elections have also been a stress test for the ruling coalition, the Democratic Party and the New Centre Right. Now it's clear that the DP can claim powerful leadership".
Finally, "at the European level, these results also make Renzi is the strongest progressive leader. With the miserable results (especially the Socialists in France) of other PSE members in Europe, [...] his leverage in Europe will be high".
In conclusion, it seems appropriate to say that "Renzi's amazing triumph has given him a strong mandate and a huge burden of responsibility - both in Italy and in the most eurosceptic Europe ever".