Italy’s election results highlight struggle to govern in Europe as populist forces rise

Griff Witte and Michael Birnbaum, The Washington Post, 05.03.2018

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After voters from the snowy peaks of the Alps to the sunny shores of Sicily delivered a verdict so fractured and mysterious it could take months to sort out, the banner headline Monday in the venerable daily La Stampa captured the state of a nation that’s left no one in charge: “Ungovernable Italy.” [...]

“The situation is less volatile than three or four years ago,” said Janis Emmanouilidis, director of policy studies at the Brussels-based European Policy Center. “Back then, markets would have gone crazy. There would have been fear and panic.”

The mild reaction, Emmanouilidis said, also reflects something Europe has learned about its anti-establishment forces once they take power: Their vicious bark turns out to be a far gentler bite.

Greece learned that after electing the far-left Syriza movement in 2015, only to see it back down from a fight with the country’s creditors and adopt many of the same positions it had long vilified. [...]

In Italy, both Five Star and the League have already softened their stance on the euro and the European Union, anticipating a shot at power and the chance to work within the system, rather than rail against it from the outside.

“Some of these movements have become demystified,” Emmanouilidis said. “They’ve become part of the establishment.”

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