Parliamentary Elections

September 25, 2022


  • In July 2022, Mario Draghi resigned as Prime Minister of Italy. While Draghi's national unity government was popular, several parties in the coalition had begun to withhold support, including the Five Star Movement (M5S), League or Lega, and Forza Italia.  As a result, President Sergio Mattarella dissolved the Italian Parliament in late July, calling for elections in September 2022. In the interim, Draghi continues as caretaker prime minister. 

  • Prior to Draghi's resignation, his cross-party coalition was comprised of the following parties: Five Star Movement (M5S); League or Lega; Forza Italia; Democratic Party (DP); Italia Viva (IV); and Article One.

  • For the first time since 2018, Italians will head to the ballot to vote for both chambers of the Italian Parliament: the Chamber of Deputies and Senate. The winning coalition will need a majority in both. 36 percent of members are elected in a first-past-the-post vote and the remaining are elected by proportional representation through party lists. Since the 1990s, no coalition or political party has won reelection.

  • In 2020, Italy held a constitutional referendum that dramatically reduced the size of Parliament. The number of members in the Chamber of Deputies was cut from 630 members to 400. Additionally, the Senate of the Republic was cut from 315 to 200 members.  


  • Italy is divided into 27 electoral districts. Political parties must receive at least three percent of the vote to get into parliament.
  • Main parties:
    • The League (Lega): led by Matteo Salvini; far-right; anti-EU sanctions on Russia; Eurosceptic; seen as Russia-friendly; populist; anti-migration.

    • Forza Italia (FI): led by Silvio Berlusconi; center-right; pro-NATO; pro-Ukraine; Eurosceptic; liberal-conservative.

    • Fratelli d'Italia/ Brothers of Italy (FdI); led by Giorgia Meloni; conservative right-wing populist; historic ties to fascism; Eurosceptic; pro-national law over EU law; pro-NATO; pro-Ukraine; anti-migration; anti-globalization; anti-abortion; anti-LGBTQ+.

    • Azione + Italia Viva (also known as Third Pole): led by Carlo Calenda and former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi; liberal; pro-EU; anti-populist, pro-reform agenda; pro-nuclear energy; formerly two parties that have united to attract votes from the right and left.

    • Five Star Movement (M5S): led by former Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte; center-left; anti-establishment; populist; skeptical of Russia sanctions; supported China’s Belt and Road initiative; environmentalist.

    • Democratic Party (PD): led by Enrico Letta; center-left; strong supporters of the Draghi agenda, pro-EU; pro-NATO; progressive; pro-increasing renewable energy; supports cutting income tax for medium and low earners.

Impact on U.S. Interests

  • Economy: Italy has the third largest economy within the European Union. There are longstanding concerns that the weak Italian economy could create systemic risk for eurozone economies. Italy is the largest recipient of EU Covid recovery funds (NEXTGEN EU) and there are fears that conflict between a new right-wing government and the EU may endanger Italy’s access to these funds, threatening economic growth and potentially Europe’s economy as a whole.

  • Russia and Ukraine: Italian parties have condemned Russia for its war against Ukraine. But right-wing voters remain split on sanctions. Giorgia Meloni has highlighted her Atlanticist leanings and support for NATO and opposition to Russia’s invasion, but her party is split on sanctions. In addition, others within the right-wing coalition, most notably the League, have ties to the Kremlin and are opposed to sanctions. Italy is also very dependent on Russian gas and has seen energy prices increase significantly.

  • Conflict with the EU: There are concerns that a potential right-wing coalition government may harm European cohesion by blocking EU initiatives and ignoring EU regulations.

  • Hungary: A new right-wing government may impede the EU’s efforts to address Hungary’s autocratic turn. Giorgia Meloni has been a supporter of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

  • S. forces: As the host of six U.S. military installations, including the 6th Fleet, and the second-largest number of U.S. troops in Europe, Italy remains an important partner for security cooperation in the Mediterranean.

Key Issues to Watch

  • Right-wing coalition: Polling shows that a coalition of Fratelli d'Italia, Lega, and Forza Italia is likely to win on Sunday, with Giorgia Meloni in position to become the next Prime Minister. Although Meloni’s (and Fratelli d’Italia’s) past is rooted in fascist ideology, Meloni has attempted to frame herself as a traditional, more moderate conservative. Matteo Salvini of Lega will likely become another prominent player within the next government. A member of the previous Draghi government as interior minister, Salvini was in the spotlight after closing migrant camps and blocking migrants from entering ports in Italy. He also has extensive ties to the Kremlin and is seen as a defender of Putin.

  • Worsening economy: A lack of economic growth and a continued weak economy have been key concerns for voters in Italy, especially in the midst of rising energy costs. Inflation has jumped to a 37-year high, with fears of large-scale business closures and lay-offs. The manufacturing sector has seen a decline in output, and consumer confidence has reached levels last seen during the euro crisis. In addition, Italy's sovereign debt is nearing $3 trillion, with its lifeline hinging on a continuing €200 million Covid recovery package from the European Union to help its worsening economy. EU officials may use this as a bargaining chip for keeping Italy in line in the event of clashes on major issues. Despite this, Meloni's coalition continues to push for a renegotiation of the EU Covid recovery plan to account for higher oil prices.

  • The rise of the far-right within the European Union: If polling is correct, Brussels will be closely monitoring Giorgia Meloni's first few months of leadership. Many will be watching how her relationship with Hungary's Viktor Orban will evolve in the context of their contentions within the EU Council over democratic standards and the rule of law. In addition, Meloni's campaign remarks regarding national law taking precedence over EU law have raised red flags for officials in Brussels. Italy had regained a leading voice in the European Union under Draghi, but a more contentious relationship is likely in a right-wing government led by Meloni.

  • Migration: The parties expected to form a government—Brothers of Italy, the League, and Forza Italia—have long taken hardline positions opposing migration. They promise a tough crackdown on illegal migration.

Data source: POLITICO.