Mar 5, 2018

Two populists vie for power after Italian election

Di Maio poses for a picture on election day. Photo: Carlo Hermann/AFP/Getty Images

Two populists are claiming they won the right to govern Italy in Sunday’s parliamentary elections, which marked a crushing defeat for the governing center-left and a humbling result for Silvio Berlusconi’s center-right Forza Italia party.

Breaking it down: Luigi Di Maio, 31, heads the anti-establishment Five Star movement, which secured a projected 231 seats — by far the most of any single party. Matteo Salvini, 44, leads Lega, which won a projected 123 seats on an anti-immigration platform and emerged as the biggest member of a right-wing bloc that won a plurality of the votes.

  • What we know: The parties that performed best ran against immigration, the establishment and European integration. For those who had hoped the populist tide in the West that had swept in Donald Trump and Brexit was receding, this is a troubling outcome.
  • What we don’t know: What Italy’s next government will actually look like, and who will lead it. There are several potential coalitions with the 316 seats needed for a governing majority, but no agreement appears imminent.
Potential outcomes
  • Populists unite: If Di Maio and Salvini can come to an agreement they'd have a comfortable majority, but that outcome is far from guaranteed.
  • Populists + Forza: If the right-wing bloc stays together, Berlusconi’s Forza Italia could join Five Star and Lega (aka Lega Nord or the League) in a governing coalition that would have 450+ seats.
  • Grand coalition: The right-wing bloc plus former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s center-left Democrats would total a projected 327 seats, but a senior Democratic leader has said the party plans to move into the opposition after a “clear defeat,” the Guardian reports. The Democrats have also ruled out joining with Five Star.
  • New elections: President Sergio Mattarella, a moderate, has great power over the shape of the next government. If no workable coalition can be cobbled together, he could leave Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni in office and call for new elections later this year.

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The novel coronavirus has now killed more than 2,000 people for the second day in a row, and it's infected more than 432,000 others, per Johns Hopkins data.

Where it stands: More than 14,800 people have died of COVID-19 in the U.S. — including over 4,500 in New York. The state's death toll surged to its highest one-day total on Wednesday — beating the previous day's record. 779 people died in New York in 24 hours. N.Y. has reported more cases than the most-affected countries in Europe.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 1,484,811 — Total deaths: 88,538 — Total recoveries: 329,876Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 432,132 — Total deaths: 14,817 — Total recoveries: 23,906Map.
  3. Federal government latest: Top Trump administration officials had been developing a plan to give cloth masks to huge numbers of Americans, but the idea lost traction amid heavy internal skepticism.
  4. States latest: New York has reported more cases than the most-affected countries in Europe. Chicago's Cook County jail is largest-known source of coronavirus in U.S.
  5. Business: One-third of U.S. jobs are at risk of disappearing, mostly affecting low-income workers.
  6. World: WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged countries to put politics aside "if you don’t want to have many more body bags.”
  7. Environment: COVID-19 is underscoring the connection between air pollution and dire outcomes from respiratory diseases.
  8. Tech: A new report recommends stimulus spending to help close the digital divide revealed by social distancing.
  9. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  10. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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