If the strategy doesn’t work, don’t fix it. On Thursday, as usual, Enrico Letta began and ended the day with an appeal for a strategic vote for the PD: “Calenda and Conte have chosen not to fight. Only the PD can beat the right-wingers. We are the only ones who have a chance in the uninominal constituencies.”
There are not many days left in this accelerated election campaign. From Friday we are already in the final stretch, and starting from midnight it will no longer be possible to publish polls measuring voting intentions. The latest ones confirm that the approach the PD chose for its campaign is not working.
The wider the distance that voters perceive between the center-right and the coalition of the PD, Left-Greens and +Europa, the less effective is the appeal to support them in the uninominal constituencies. The appeal from the beginning appeared to have little credibility, given that the PD seems to have accepted the inability to form an alliance with the Five Stars as an inescapable fate: a call for pragmatism and a strategic vote in words but not in deeds doesn’t work. In the end, Letta’s speech to the PD candidates, in which he explained that they needed to work to limit the damage as winning was not an option anymore, was enough to shut down any talk of a comeback in the uninominal constituencies.
Letta’s strategic error is reflected clearly in the latest polls. With a caveat: their stated margin of error is so wide, plus or minus 3% (which could be even more, as the sampling wasn’t fully random and mainly involved email lists), and the share of undecideds/non-respondents is so high, that one must read the numbers with caution. However, one can be more confident about the underlying trends – and these show, once again, that parties other than the PD alliance and the right-wingers have been strengthening rather than weakening over time.
Both the Five Star Movement and Azione-Italia Viva, which according to Letta’s reasoning should be bleeding support because they’re not running in the uninominal elections, are instead on an upward trend. Furthermore, this trend contradicts the classic one in which the two main ideological poles collect the support of most of those who were undecided until the last moment as voting day approaches. We will see how things turn out: it is possible that this fast-moving election campaign will also accelerate the traditional processes, and the decisive developments will take place in the final hours (but we won’t be able to tell, given the ban on the publication of polls).
Meanwhile, on Thursday a Euromedia poll for Porta a Porta did not deviate too much from previous ones, but showed an increase for M5S (13%) and Azione (7.8%), otherwise confirming the enormous gap, 17 percentage points, between the coalition of the PD (as a single party at 21.8%) and that of FdI (as a single party at 24.7%).
However, another poll, by the Italian Center for Electoral Studies (CISE), gave strikingly different results from those seen in recent days. Here, the gap between the PD and FdI is narrowed (PD: 21.4%; FdI: 23%), the Lega drops to single digits (9.6%), and the distance between the center-right and the PD coalition is at its lowest (9%).
Most strikingly, the M5S is the third largest party by far, at 16.6%, within striking distance of the PD. As the researchers explain, this was a peculiar poll, concerned mainly with campaign issues, which means voting intentions might have been skewed. Or not.
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