Berlusconi Fails to Convince Before Vote: Italy Campaign Trail

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(Bloomberg) -- Italians go to the polls on March 4 with voters divided over the country’s relationship with the European Union, taxes and immigration. Here’s your daily guide to the latest news.

The center-right coalition held a rare joint rally in Rome where Forza Italia’s Silvio Berlusconi boasted they’d win a majority. But he felt the need to implore people to actually vote, and as John Follain reports, his allies from the Brothers of Italy and the League – with whom Berlusconi has frequently clashed — didn’t look too convinced of their chances.

EU Parliament President Antonio Tajani told Berlusconi he’s available to be prime minister if asked. The League’s Matteo Salvini told Rai TV today that the euro “doesn't work.” That puts him at odds with Berlusconi, who has ruled out leaving the common currency.

Three major voting blocs had more than 20 percent support but no workable majorities when a polling blackout began on Feb. 17. If that’s the way the vote turns out, it’ll be some time before we know who might actually rule Italy. John Follain runs you through the possible permutations.

The polls will close at 11 p.m. Sunday, but don’t feel you have to rush to get in front of a screen. As Marco Bertacche, Chiara Remondini and Chiara Albanese explain, Italian exit polls don’t have a great track record, so go ahead and pour yourself another glass of Nebbiolo before results start trickling in after midnight.

Immigration is a major issue in the Italian election, and Russian propaganda has a lot to do with it, Chiara Albanese and Esteban Duarte write.

Quote of the day: “Everyone gets to decide their own vote, but Monday morning we’ll see that we risk an agreement between extremists, on arguments for exiting the euro, of rejecting vaccinations, and of nationalism. It won’t be a joke anymore.” Democratic Party’s Matteo Renzi on the possibility of an agreement between Five Star and the League.


Italian equities have largely shrugged off the election, leading some analysts to warn of complacency, given the political risks. But Italian stocks remain among the cheapest in Europe and are still well below their 2007 peak. Meanwhile, gross domestic product grew 1.6 percent from a year earlier at the end of 2017, a full percentage point behind the euro area as a whole.

Many of the candidates have spent the campaign throwing around unrealistic promises. There’s going to be a reality check, writes Ferdinando Giugliano.

Who’s tweeting: Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, a Democratic Party candidate in Rome, said his government has boosted growth, created jobs and cut the budget deficit. Berlusconi again insisted he won’t cut a deal with the Democratic Party, but as usual saved his harshest words for Five Star. The League’s Salvini posted links he claimed was violence and vandalism directed at his party.

In case you missed it, why Italy’s confused voters are in such a bad mood, everything you need to know about Five Star, and can you spot the difference between Berlusconi and Donald Trump? It’s harder than you might expect.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

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