Italy Faces Political Paralysis After Populist Jolt

(From The Wall Street Journal)

With 98% of votes counted early Monday, the antiestablishment 5 Star Movement was projected to win 32% of the vote—exceeding expectations and emerging as Italy’s largest party.

The 5 Star Movement, which has won a large following by denouncing Italy’s conventional politicians as corrupt, has long been hostile to the idea of forming governing pacts with other parties. Despite some signs of greater flexibility recently, many observers believe a government led by the movement will be difficult to assemble.

“Nobody can govern without the 5 Star,” Riccardo Fraccaro, a leading party member, told a news conference after the vote.

On paper, the 5 Star could form a government with the League. Such a populist coalition, which would shock Italy’s and Europe’s establishment and possibly challenge European Union rules on economic policy, faces political hurdles, however, given major differences between the parties’ ideology and political strategies up to now.

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