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ITALIAN ELECTIONS

KEY POINTS: How do Italy’s main parties plan to deal with the energy crisis?

Energy prices are a hot topic in this election campaign, with prices set to remain high over winter. Here's what Italy’s main parties have proposed so far.

Light bulb.
From capped prices to an ‘energy recovery fund’, here are the parties' proposals to help households and businesses struggling with energy bills. Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

As soaring energy prices continue to pile pressure on Italian businesses and households – another cost-of-living aid package is now being drafted – Italy’s main political parties have placed the current energy crisis at the core of their manifestos ahead of the elections on Sunday, September 25th.

Though all parties seem committed to weaning the country off its dependence on Russian gas and developing alternative energy sources, proposals vary greatly from one side of the political spectrum to the other. 

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How much are energy bills rising in Italy?

To give you an idea of who’s saying what, here’s an overview of how Italian parties plan on tackling the energy crisis.

Democratic Party (PD)

The left-wing Democratic Party, led by former premier Enrico Letta, is promoting renewable energy and promises free or discounted energy for low-income families.

Here are the PD’s main policies on the subject: 

  • Introduce a new energy support scheme for low-income families, with up to 1,350 kilowatts/hour of energy provided free of charge and the remaining energy demand being supplied at discounted prices.
  • Increase the amount of renewable energy produced in the country – the target is an additional 85 gigawatts by 2030 – through the introduction of financial incentives for businesses scoring highly in environmental ratings and the construction of “local energy communities” (i.e. families and businesses sharing the same renewable energy grid)
  • Temporarily resort to regasification plants (plants converting liquefied natural gas to methane gas) to tackle gas supply shortages. However, the use of these plants should be abandoned “long before 2050” to allow for the planned phasing out of the use of fossil fuels in favour of renewable energy.
  • Reject nuclear energy given that the “timeframe and existing technologies” are not “compatible” with the country’s emission targets.

READ ALSO: Where do Italy’s main parties stand on environmental issues?

Regasification plant in Barcelona, Spain.

The Democratic Party sees regasification plants as a ‘temporary solution’ that should be abandoned well before 2050. Photo by Josep LAGO / AFP

Five-Star Movement (M5S)

Led by former premier Giuseppe Conte, M5S places renewable energy and improving buildings’ energy efficiency at the centre of its programme. Here are the main policies

  • Improve the current building superbonus in order to further increase the number of properties with high energy efficiency.
  • Introduce a new building bonus allowing businesses to switch to renewable energy sources at little or no cost.

READ ALSO: Italy’s building superbonus: How will it change after the election?

  • Create a “energy recovery fund” to help struggling families and businesses, and make key investments in the field of renewable energy, with a peculiar focus on “green” hydrogen.Push for a
  • European price cap avoiding “speculation mechanisms” on the part of the Dutch market.
  • Oppose new gas drilling and nuclear power, with the latter being described as “incompatible with the energy transition” due to “inherent flaws” and “vulnerability”. 

Italia Viva-Azione (or third pole)

The coalition of two relatively new centrist parties – Matteo Renzi’s Italia Viva and Carlo Calenda’s Azione – has made independence from Russian gas its primary concern in the energy field. 

These are their main proposals:

  • Build two new regasification plants and increase the national production of natural gas through the enhancement of existing plants.
  • Streamline bureaucracy for the construction of renewable energy plants (chiefly, solar panels, wind farms and biogas plants) and offer financial incentives for businesses choosing to make the switch to renewable energy.

READ ALSO: Where do Italy’s main parties stand on environmental issues?

  • Introduce a European price cap on gas and impose taxes on energy companies’ “real profits” (the programme offers no explanation as to what is meant by “real”), using the collected funds to help low-income families.
  • Resort to nuclear energy to achieve a “zero emissions” target by 2050

Solar panels in Lebanon.

Solar panels are part of the ‘green’ transition envisioned by Italy’s third pole. Photo by Joseph EID / AFP

Right-wing coalition

The alliance uniting Brothers of Italy, the League and Forza Italia is expected to win the elections, but it’s not clear what it would do to help businesses and families with rising energy bills once in government.

The coalition hasn’t gone into much detail about how they plan to tackle the energy crisis, with parties recently squabbling on whether or not the country’s public debt should be increased.

The bloc’s joint programme includes the following short proposals:

  • Increase the amount of renewable energy produced in the country (no further details are given) to achieve energetic independence.
  • Exploit existing gas reserves through the construction of new gas rigs.
  • Support European price-cap policies.
  • Resort to “green and clean” nuclear power.

The individual manifestos of the parties making up the coalition offer some additional insight into their planned energy policies. 

READ ALSO: How would victory for Italy’s far right impact foreigners’ lives?

In its own programme, the League says it is committed to capping VAT at 5 percent for electricity bills and fuel duties.

Additionally, Salvini’s party plans on building “a national nuclear energy industry” centred around “last-generation nuclear reactors” – something which they regard as “vital” to achieving energetic independence and meeting the “zero emissions target by 2050”.

Like the League, Forza Italia sees nuclear power as a viable option, though it also pledges to double Italy’s production of natural gas. Furthermore, Berlusconi’s party promises unspecified financial incentives for businesses choosing eco-friendly technologies.

Italy outlawed nuclear power after the Chernobyl disaster, but a return to nuclear energy would be in the cards should the right-wing bloc win the next elections. Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP

Brothers of Italy, led by Giorgia Meloni, says it wants to impose greater taxation on energy companies’ “extra profits” – the resulting funds, they say, would be used to help struggling families and businesses. 

The party also says it backs a European cap on gas prices and will consider guaranteeing minimum levels of gas and electricity supplies for households who’ve missed bill payments.

Find all the latest news on Italy’s elections here.

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ITALIAN ELECTIONS

What role will Berlusconi play in Italy’s new government?

Nine years after being convicted of tax fraud, 'immortal' Silvio Berlusconi is set to return to the Senate and seeks a ‘director’ role in the new Italian government.

What role will Berlusconi play in Italy's new government?

Silvio Berlusconi has done it again – the 85-year-old former prime minister returns to parliament after winning a seat in Italy’s Senate. He does so nine years after being forced out of Palazzo Madama for tax fraud.

Berlusconi’s Forza Italia was celebrating on Monday after a right-wing coalition led by Giorgia Meloni and her post-fascist Brothers of Italy party triumphed at the ballot boxes.

READ ALSO: Italian elections LIVE: Far right set for clear win as Italy awaits official results

The media mogul, who has been recently dubbed “the immortal” for his longevity in politics, scored a seat in Monza, Lombardy, where he owns a Serie A football club.

Leader of Italy's liberal-conservative party Forza Italia, Silvio Berlusconi and leader of Italy's conservative party Brothers of Italy, Giorgia Meloni acknowledge supporters at the end of a joint rally.

Berlusconi will be one of the key members of the new Italian government together with Matteo Salvini and Giorgia Meloni, currently poised to be the new PM. Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP

The billionaire was forced out of the upper house of parliament in 2013 after being convicted of corporate tax fraud.

It was a heavy blow for the cavaliere’s political career, one which, in Berlusconi’s words, marked a “day of mourning for democracy”.

The three-time former premier was ordered to serve community service and was banned from holding elected office. That ban expired in 2018 but it would take Berlusconi a while to recover his shine. 

READ ALSO: Meloni, Salvini, Berlusconi: The key figures in Italy’s likely new government

His bid to become Italy’s head of state failed in January. But, at his ninth general election – likely his last – Berlusconi bounced back.

He campaigned largely on social media, snapping up over 600,000 followers on TikTok in just a month, and wooing the youth vote with (slightly awkward) grandad jokes.

In one video, which was watched over one million times, he interrupted himself to brag about killing an enormous fly. In another, he joked about stealing young men’s girlfriends.

Pro-European voice 

Berlusconi, who burst onto the political scene 28 years ago, said he would be a father figure to Meloni, 45, and fellow coalition partner Matteo Salvini, 49.

He also said he would be a pro-European voice in what is expected to be Italy’s most right-wing government since World War II.

“I’m going to try to act as director in the government,” Berlusconi said after casting his vote. 

Silvio Berlusconi (C) surrounded by bodyguards, arrives at his home in downtown Rome on March 11, 2015.

Berlusconi is currently part of a criminal trial, in which he is accused of paying starlets to keep quiet about his erotic dinner parties. Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP

This is despite a series of health issues, including a fall at the start of the campaign which made it difficult for him to walk.

Berlusconi is also currently part of a criminal trial, in which he is accused of paying starlets to keep quiet about his allegedly erotic dinner parties, known as ‘bunga bunga’.

READ ALSO: Italian prosecutors seek six-year jail term for Berlusconi in ‘Ruby ter’ trial

The conservative European People’s Party (EPP), the biggest group in the European Parliament, tweeted their congratulations to Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, which secured about eight percent of Sunday’s vote.

“We are confident that Forza Italia will guide the next government into a path that serves the best interests of the Italian people as part of a strong and stable Europe,” it said.

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