Italian Expats Buck Trend Choosing Establishment Over Populists

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(Bloomberg) -- Italy’s populist forces surged in the general election, but Italians living abroad stuck with the establishment.

While the ruling Democratic Party crashed to its worst ever result in the March 4 ballot forcing leader Matteo Renzi to say he will resign, it was the most voted party among Italian expatriates.

“There is a time lag in how trends and opinions take hold abroad,” said Roberto Baldassari, chairman of Istituto Piepoli, which does voting data analysis and polls. “Italians abroad are somewhat removed from what’s happening in the country and don’t feel the same need to protest against the establishment.”

Almost a million citizens residing outside the country posted their vote in the weeks before general elections, with many of them spending hours at local offices to get their ballots. The majority chose the Democratic Party which got 27.1 percent of the total. That compares with only 18.7 percent of votes at home for Renzi’s party.

The trend was even stronger in Europe, where close to 60 percent of Italian voters abroad are concentrated. There, the Democratic Party got 32 percent leading in large expatriate communities like Switzerland, Germany, France and the U.K.

In the U.S. the center-right coalition prevailed with 31.5 percent, followed by the Democratic Party.

Italians abroad elect 12 seats in the lower house and 6 in the Senate through a purely proportional system. That’s out of a total 630 deputies and 315 senators.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

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