Italian and Brazilian (first round) elections minus one to two weeks

The far-right is likely to win in Italy, while the far-right Bolsonaro is likely to be ousted in Brazil. Also: the right wins last Sunday’s Swedish election and latest US polls.

Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian is a paid election analyst for The Conversation. His work for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.

The Italian election will be held next Sunday September 25. All of both the Italian parliament’s houses will be up for election: 400 seats in the Chamber of Deputies and 200 in the Senate. Governments need the confidence of both houses. First past the post (FPTP) will be used to elect 37% of both houses, with the remainder allocated by proportional representation.

Unfortunately, Italy imposes a 15-day blackout on polls before an election, so the last polls were released on September 9. In these final polls, the right coalition was in the mid to high 40s, the left coalition mostly in the high 20s, the Five Star Movement at 12-15% and a centrist alliance at 5-8%.

The right coalition is composed of the far-right Brothers of Italy, far-right League, conservative Forza Italia and a small party, while the left coalition includes the centre-left Democrats and three small parties. The Brothers and League will win the large majority of seats within any right coalition.

Unless there’s a large swing back to the left during the 15-day poll blackout, the 37% of overall seats that are elected by FPTP will give the right coalition a clear overall majority in both houses. Giorgia Meloni, the female leader of the Brothers, is likely to be Italy’s next PM.

Bolsonaro likely to lose in Brazil

The first round of the Brazilian presidential election is October 2. If nobody wins at least 50%, a runoff between the top two first round candidates will be held October 30. The major contenders are the far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro and the leftist Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (Lula), who was president from 2003 to 2010.

The last five Brazilian polls have had Lula leading Bolsonaro by six to 15 points in the first round. It still appears unlikely that Lula will win a first round majority owing to another left-wing candidate who has 7-9%. But if the contest goes to the October 30 runoff, the polls give Lula an eight to 17 point lead.

Could Bolsonaro do as Donald Trump did in the 2020 US election, and refuse to accept the result if he loses? In August he said he would respect the result as long as the voting is “clean and transparent”. The bigger Lula’s margin, the more likely Bolsonaro will be forced to accept the result.

Right wins Swedish election

The 349 members of Sweden’s parliament are elected by proportional representation with a 4% national threshold. At the September 11 election, the Social Democrats won 107 seats (up seven since 2018), but their allies performed worse than in 2018, with the Left on 24 seats (down four), the Centre 24 (down seven) and the Greens 18 (up two).

The far-right Swedish Democrats won 73 seats (up 11), and three other conservative parties all won fewer seats than in 2018: the Moderates 68 (down two), the Christian Democrats 19 (down three) and the Liberals 16 (down four).

Overall the right bloc won 176 seats (up two) and the left 173 (down two). The most likely outcome is a coalition headed by the Moderates with support from the Swedish Democrats. This ends eight years of governments led by the Social Democrats.

US: Democrats continue to advance in FiveThirtyEight forecasts

US midterm elections are on November 8. In the FiveThirtyEight Senate forecast, Democrats are now up to a 71% chance to retain; there has been steady movement to Democrats since mid-July, when Republicans had a 56% chance to win the Senate. Democrats have also gained more slowly in the House forecast, and are up to a 29% chance to retain.

Democrats now lead Republicans by 44.9-43.4 in the national vote for the House. But Joe Biden’s ratings have slid a little recently after a solid gain since late July; he’s currently at 53.0% disapprove, 43.0% approve (net -11.0). Nate Silver says we can’t predict which way any polling errors will fall; the polls could be overstating Democrats or Republicans.

25 comments on “Italian and Brazilian (first round) elections minus one to two weeks”

  1. I’d like to point out with the U.S polling area thing that usually the party out of power in the white house tends to be underestimated in midterm elections (Dems 2018, GOP 2014) and I suspect despite Roe, Republicans will be more motivated to turn out this year than Democrats and I suspect the GOP will pick up both houses of congress but we shall see.

  2. No polling for the final two weeks of an election campaign is… odd. How the heck does anybody judge whether the polls were accurate or not?

  3. Sweden’s parliament is a total mess. The Social Democrats have been lucky to be in charge that long with less than a third of the seats… the last term was three separate coalitions with two prime ministers, all in minority.

    If the main game is keeping Sweden Democrats (far-right) out of government, they might need a German-style grand coalition… trouble is, instead of two parties, it’s two coalitions with up to four parties each, so it’d be like herding cats. Whoever ends up as PM probably won’t stay there for long.

  4. Details of the Swedish election result (e.g. regional and demographic variation) are at:

    The white nationalist “Sweden Democrats” (whose vote rose by 3%) won the most votes in two rural areas (out of 29 constituency areas) in southern Sweden (Skane, excluding Malmo) near Denmark, while the Social Democrats (vote up by 2%) won the most votes in all other constituency areas.

    Perhaps the starkest contrast with Australia is in the age breakdown (based on exit polls for Swedish TV), showing the Social Democrat aligned parties with 53% of the over 65 vote, but just 41% of the 18-21 age group. Remarkably, the Social Democrat aligned parties gained only 49% of the blue-collar vote, the same as the right wing parties (including the Liberals at 2%), because the nationalists got 29%, only 3% below the Social Democrats. Assuming the exit polls are largely accurate, then this election shows that, even under proportional representation, marginal voters (i.e. those with little background electoral knowledge or experience) can be decisive.

    The Swedish election is a bizarre result, in that the three Tory parties that will form the new government (Moderates, Christian Democrats and Liberals) all lost votes, by nearly 1% each. How long the new government survives may depend especially on whether the Liberals (whose vote dropped to 4.6%, above the 4% threshold) can grin and bear life in a government propped by the large white nationalist vote. The Swedish Liberals are now between a rock and a hard place. They had been reluctant to cooperate with the white nationalists before the election. Their main reason for doing so now (apart from perks of office) is that, if the Tory + white nationalist government fails, the Liberals could drop below the 4% threshold if new elections are required in 2023 to resolve any political impasse. For background see:

  5. Bird of paradox at 5.48 pm

    The old main game was treating the white nationalists as a pariah party, especially because of their neo-Nazi roots. That started to change a few years ago, when the grasping leader of the Moderates, Ulf Kristersson, decided his only path to power would be with the support of the white nationalists, whose long-time leader was a member of the Moderates 20 years ago. The nationalists are a smart version of the Hanson/Palmer malcontents in Australia, with a sharp anti-immigration focus.

    Here are the distinctive policies of the nationalists from the 2018 campaign:

    – Sweden should only receive asylum seekers from its neighbouring countries, and only as long as the neighbouring countries are considered safe, otherwise Sweden should accept no asylum seekers at all
    – Higher demands for citizenship, such as language tests
    – Economic incentives for immigrants to return to their home countries
    – Generally longer prison sentences for crimes
    – Make it possible to revoke citizenship for certain crimes such as terrorism
    – Forbid child marriages and polygamy without exception
    – Opposition to gender quotas
    – Leave the EU / hold a new referendum about EU membership

    Source: (2018 paper by Martinsson)

    That was repeated in 2022 with a more extreme focus on scapegoating refugees for any and every reported or imagined instance of crime (white collar crime excluded).

    So, a cross between Hanson and Dutton, with less money than Palmer but a more cynical, crass use of the media to push their message of nationalist division. In March 2022 Swedish public opinion was still more tolerant of receiving refugees from Ukraine than the EU average, but the new government may start to alter that.

    If Putin had any time to look at the Swedish election (unlikely, given the scale of his problems in Ukraine), the white nationalists would have received his blessing, just like Bolsonaro in Brazil and the “Brothers of Italy” etc.

  6. Victoria at 9.31 pm

    Depends on what one means by basket case. Do you remember the Leunig cartoon about “Bin Laden”? It went like this.

    Wife to husband: “Don’t you think Bin Laden should be taken out?”

    Husband to wife: “Seems a bit heavy to me.”

    Wife to husband: “Should have been taken out last time”. [picture: full garbage bin]

    The Italians have historically put governments in the bin more efficiently even than the major parties in Australia did their PMs in the 8 or so years from 2010 (for some reason the practice seemed to stop when it was most desperately needed, but that just allowed the electorate to eventually do a better job). However, the current mess in Italy owes much to the pernicious influence of Putin’s mate Berlusconi on Italian politics since the mid 1990s. In other words, the authoritarian, right wing influence in Italy has got much worse in the past 30 years. It’s not just an old story repeated.

  7. Victoria

    Not Italy, but rather Italian parliamentarians. Including 1946, there have been 20 Italian general elections since 1945, whereas the figure for Australia from 1946 to 2022 is 30.

    Actually 1946 should not count for Italy, since 1948 was the first general election in Italy after the war, which the right won only because of massive US interference. See:

    The key feature of Italian politics, especially since the mid 1990s, has been the dominance of party fragmentation, as fraudsters in the manner of ProMo the muppet come and go. Meloni, the latest fraudster, was a junior minister in one of Berlusconi’s governments. The nefarious impact of Berlusconi on Italian politics is worse even than the long-term, disastrous impact of J.W. Howard in Australia.

    Bastardised electoral reform has also contributed to the Italian fragmentation. E.g.:

    “In late 2005, the center-right government, headed by Berlusconi, enacted bonus-adjusted closed-list proportional representation, given perceived disadvantages for the center-right under the mixed-member rules. It might seem that the 2005 reform would enhance governability. Yet the different bases for allocating the seat bonus across the two houses—nationwide for the lower house, regionally for the upper—have ended up threatening governments: a pre-electoral coalition’s comfortable majority in the Chamber has accompanied a razor-thin Senate majority (the case of the center-left in 2006), a dwindling Senate majority (the center right over the 2008–13 legislature), and even a Senate minority (the center-left in 2013).”

    See: (p 10)

    Unless the polls are very wrong, the right will control the Senate fairly easily. See:

    What is astounding is that Italy, the country worst affected by huge Covid failures in Western Europe, will soon elect a right wing mob of fraudsters, when such people have caused the worst Covid mismanagement elsewhere (UK, US, Brazil, India, Russia).

  8. I am a bit reluctant to bet on the Brazilian election. I think the risk that something like elements of the Right attempting a coup if Lula looks certain to win is pretty high. I have contacted a few betting companies about what happens to the markets in such a situation and have been unsatisfied with their answers.

    Of course, there is a coup I think the economic consequences will be bad as the US and EU would slap on the sanctions quickly. Therefore the Real will get hammered. But also the Real is likely to be under pressure if Lula wins, so I would going short on the Real.

  9. Dr Doolittle

    My parents originate from Italy, and i still have family living there.

    I believe part of the problem is the psyche of the country as a whole.

    Italians are jaded and want their problems solved without them having to pay for it.

    This is in part due to the inherent corruption at every level of govt.

  10. Love how you believe that anyone who is conservative is ‘Far Right’, seems anyone with traditional values is slandered in that way nowdays.

  11. Amazing how depraved, vulgar perverts like Trump, Berlusconi and Bolsonaro (among others) can be characterized as possessing “traditional values”. The modern Right is all about rejecting the traditional liberal values of the postwar order and replacing them with a politics centered on spiteful, sadistic cruelty.

  12. “I’d like to point out with the U.S polling area thing that usually the party out of power in the white house tends to be underestimated in midterm elections (Dems 2018, GOP 2014) and I suspect despite Roe, Republicans will be more motivated to turn out this year than Democrats and I suspect the GOP will pick up both houses of congress but we shall see.”

    Good point, and not just mid-terms.

    Illustrated by the likes of Wisconsin, where Ron Johnson was underwater by a greater margin in 2016 polls than he is currently, but still won for the GOP, yet commentariat generally right now takes the line that he is in trouble (though it’s accepted it could go either way).

    I think the GOP will win Georgia from the Dems’ Raphael Warnock although he’s slightly ahead in the polls – not that he’s done anything wrong, but for the reasons you state. And perhaps assisted by the GOP Trump-supporting candidate riding the moderate Trump-nemesis Governor’s coat-tails somewhat (he is predicted to win and is, as you’d expect, less polarising and respected across the aisle for not doing Trump’s bidding after the 2020 election).

  13. Sweden: the Swedish Democrats did indeed originate from a far-right, white nationalist leaning.

    They claim to have ditched this, and achieving >20% of the vote this time suggests more are willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

    The Moderate (centre-right) party gave them more legitimacy with their leader’s pronouncement on the SDs 3 years ago. It may just have paid off for him too as the expected new PM, although his party has now been supplanted by the SDs as the largest party on the right.

    The real proof will be in how the SDs actually perform now they have the power – the outcome/perceived outcome will likely cause a big shift in party support across the spectrum next election (in which directions it’s currently impossible to predict, depending how they behave/govern).

  14. Italy: Giorgio Meloni, expected PM after the election, has been adamant in her support for Ukraine against Russia and appears sincere.

    The worry is that The League do well enough to give Matteo Salvini too big a mouthpiece in government – for reasons we can only surmise, he seems beholden enough to Russia to continue his (now somewhat more tacit) support for Russia and openly opposes sanctions claiming they are ‘useless’ and hurt Italians more.

    He is very articulate and knows how to stir up the discontented, and could put the new government in a difficult position by turning public opinion more against sanctions.

    If the new PM is actually sincere, and uses her own greater authority to slap down any such suggestions by Salvini if he wants to stay in government, that would be great.

    But it’s all very uncertain.

    Berlusconi, who will be even more of a junior partner than Salvini though still very influential in general, was part of the misguided Putin fan club when it was popular amongst European leaders a few years ago.
    Yet he’s a pragmatist as well as a shameless populist, and was actually quite a reliable supporter of the USA and UK in the wars against terror etc. when he was PM.
    He does his own thing but his leanings are definitely more pro-Western than he’s given credit for, I think he would continue to support the pressure on Russia. If so, Salvini and his The League would be heavily outnumbered and (hopefully) more likely to fall into line.

    The danger is that if The League loses even more support than expected vs. 2018, Salvini might be more outspoken against the mainstream policies on foreign policy just to stay in the news, and to carve out a niche and remind people he’s still the rebel they used to love, in order to regain lost support.

  15. The recent right-win in Europe (Sweden) and a potential right-win in Italy are a bit of a worry. But the EU will survive. Still, the Social Democrats of Europe will have to get the message loud and clear: Improve the material conditions of the poor and middle-class or watch the right continue its march to power.

  16. In any event, Italian politics is extremely volatile, so even if Meloni et al. win, there is no guarantee that their government will last the full term. More interesting is Bolsonaro in Brazil, where a loss for him and a win for the Social Democratic Lula can mark a significant change of direction not only for that country but also for the entire of South America. In addition, the international Neoliberal-Authoritarians will see their world influence shrink, after losing the demented Bolsonaro.

  17. BTSays on Mon at 4.55 pm

    See the post above Sun 7.15 pm for the 2018 policies of the “Sweden Democrats”. What they presented in 2022 was very similar, just with more crude law and order nonsense (it’s nonsense because they have no real solutions to social problems).

    A simple review of the rise of the white nationalists in Sweden is at:

    Almost all the policies of the “Sweden Democrats” are scapegoating refugees. The description of them as white nationalists is accurate. If the Liberals’ vote was more than 4.6%, there might be a big risk of them fracturing. By cooperating with the white nationalists, they have turned their back on their name and their record. If the Liberals fracture, the new government would fall. It would take only a handful of the Liberals to switch their allegiance to the Social Democrat led alliance for the government to change. However, whether the Liberals remain associated with the white nationalists or whether they fracture, their chances of getting above the 4% threshold at the next election (whenever it is held) are likely to diminish with time. If that occurs, the right wing government has limited prospects, as, without the 16 votes from the Liberals, the other right wing parties are nowhere near a majority.

    One point to watch will be Sweden’s position on energy imports from Russia. In 2021 8% of oil imports and 30% of gas imports came from Russia. In a review of far right parties in Europe focusing on their attitudes to Putin before his war, Sweden’s white nationalists were assessed as “open” to cooperating with him. Sweden is due to have the rotating Presidency of the EU in Jan to June 2023. Assuming Putin is still in power and has not lost his war by January, Sweden may switch from a country that had been strong in opposing Putin’s war to one that becomes ambivalent.

  18. Cat on Mon at 2.48 pm

    Impressionists were good painters but sometimes others’ impressions may mislead.

    Once upon a time, around 1995 or 1996, there was a Sydney Morning Herald review of this old anthology, published by a small press in Springwood, Butterfly Books.

    The reviewer, while generally positive, thought she had a smart line in remarking that the book was “edited by a committee”, without actually knowing anything about the editing process at all. The material for the book was compiled by a dear friend of mine, Irene Moores, in her eighties, as her personal response to the 1993 Year of Indigenous Peoples. She had, in 1992, published with Butterfly a remarkable and successful memoir, titled Where is Wungawurrah? It was a very moving story:

    After Irene’s death, several months of singular editorial work was needed to help the publisher ensure that the anthology, Voices of Aboriginal Australia, appeared. It contributed in a small way to a movement for change that J.W. Howard obstructed.

  19. Dr Doolittle

    There is no chance at all that Sweden will become “ambivalent” towards Russia under a Moderate Party-led government (which it will be).

    They will be at least as strong as a Social Democrat-led one, in a similar way to the way the UK Conservative party and a Dutch gov led by Mark Rutte are very clear about Russia.

    I can’t imagine any blurry lines for the Moderates on this topic regardless of how much they need the Swedish Democrats’ votes in parliament (if in fact the Sw. Dems are more ambivalent to Russia anyway, which I’ve no idea but assume that wouldn’t be very politically astute of them right now after years of cleaning up their image).

  20. sfw says:
    Monday, September 19, 2022 at 3:35 pm

    Love how you believe that anyone who is conservative is ‘Far Right’, seems anyone with traditional values is slandered in that way nowdays.

    Tell me your definition of “conservative.” There was a time when it involved valuing received institutions and stability. As far as Australia is concerned, that went out the window in the 70s, when the Coalition Premiers of NSW and Qld abandoned “convention” (integral to the Westminster system) when it came to appointing mid-term replacements for some ALP Senators. That particular trashing of conservatism enabled Fraser to “delay” Supply.

    While you’re at it, come up with a list of “traditional values.”

  21. “Tell me your definition of “conservative.” There was a time when it involved valuing received institutions and stability. As far as Australia is concerned, that went out the window in the 70s, when the Coalition Premiers of NSW and Qld abandoned “convention” (integral to the Westminster system) when it came to appointing mid-term replacements for some ALP Senators. That particular trashing of conservatism enabled Fraser to “delay” Supply.”

    Forgive me for butting in, but what’s that got to do with being ‘far right’??

  22. Plenty of issues in the US to make the GOP worry about their chances of taking the Senate. Most involving the “likability” and quality of some of their candidates. Even McConnell has mentioned the “quality” issue.

    The first three are currently held by the GOP and the last by the DEMs and should have been each pickups for the GOP

    OHIO – Trump held a rally there last weekend despite being asked not to by Vance as Trump was becoming a liability with independent voters,. Trump then didn’t invite Vance to it. Not only that Trump dissed Vance at the rally. He’s also got poor fundraising.

    PENNSYLVANIA – Oz has funding issues and isn’t a good campaigner and isn’t exciting GOP voters and his lack of likability and tacking to the centre to pick up moderate votes in the general election isn’t going down well with the MAGA wing.

    WISCONSIN- Johnson upset a lot of people by standing for a 3rd term when he said he wouldn’t. He’s also flip flopped on issues like abortion and same sex marriage which has led to easy attacks from his Dem opponent.

    GEORGIA – their candidate – Walker – is basically an idiot and said there are already too many trees! He also forgot how many children he has.

    ARIZONA – the GOP went full MAGA with their candidate which isn’t sitting well with a lot of GOP voters let alone independents. AZ was where the “cyber ninjas”:carried out their audit and instead of finding loads of fraud they actually increased Biden’s vote count!

    NEW HAMPSHIRE- in their recent primary GOP voters narrowly went with a Biden election win denier by less than 2k votes though he’s pulled back and now said Biden is the legitimate president and the election wasn’t stolen but there was still massive fraud. Hassan only won by just over 1,000 in 2016 taking the seat from the GOP so with the right candidate it should have been an easy pick up (which it would have been if Governor Sununu had stood for the GOP).

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