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Better-than-the-alternative Bersani has the lead in Italian election

Simone Foxman

Pier Luigi Bersani, currently the secretary of the center-left Democratic Party, looks poised to win parliamentary elections in Italy with 34.5% of the popular vote, according to a flash poll released by Sky News. These are the first results out of Italy since the polls closed at 3 p.m. local time.

Former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Freedom Party was in second place in those polls, with 29% of the popular vote. Current Prime Minister Mario Monti, a technocrat who has spearheaded economic reforms in Italy since late 2011, trailed the other candidates with 9.5% of the vote.

Analysts expected Bersani to require Monti’s assistance to gain control of the Italian Senate, meaning that the reformer would play an important role in policymaking going forward. The latest polls suggest that this may not be the case; Bersani could lead a coalition all by himself. Monti has been a positive for markets; formerly a European Union commissioner, he’s given investors confidence in a political system that used to be known for corruption and resistance to change. Berlusconi, with his popular, tax-cutting rhetoric and various rule-breaking escapades was the poster child for the old status quo.

Italy’s high levels of public debt mean that the new government must continue to reform its uncompetitive economy in order to win support from investors. Bersani is known as a down-to-earth career politician who is unlikely to be as energetic a leader as Monti was, but is better than the alternative (Berlusconi). The Italian FTSE MIB is up 3.4% on the news that Bersani—and not Berlusconi—is leading the race.

Click here to a more complete guide to the Italian elections.

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