by Alessandra Cardone
ROME, Sept. 26 (Xinhua) -- Would Germany's elections results affect the political equilibrium in Italy, the next European country to head to election in few months? Italian analysts and media mulled over the issue in the aftermath of the vote held on Sunday, which granted Chancellor Angela Merkel her fourth term in a row.
Merkel's conservative CDU/CSU bloc remained the largest force in the parliament, with 33 percent of the vote. Nonetheless, it suffered its heaviest setback in decades.
An even larger defeat struck the major center-left party, the Social Democrats SPD, which dropped to 20.5 percent from 25.7 percent in the previous election in 2013. The two forces had been leading the country for the past four years through a so-called grand coalition.
As support for mainstream parties weakened -- as already registered in other countries within the European Union (EU) -- anti-immigration and euro-sceptic Alternative fuer Deutschland (AFD) party scored the best result ever for a far-right movement in Germany after World War II. With 12.6 percent of vote, it will enter the parliament for the first time as the third largest force.
Was the same trend likely to repeat itself in Italy, which was going to hold parliamentary elections next spring?
"I think the German vote may indeed affect the next campaign in Italy, in terms of more emphasis given on the need to reform the EU," Federico Niglia, professor of international relations and history with LUISS University in Rome, told Xinhua. "Each political force, of course, would address this issue according to its orientation."
Moderate, pro-European parties would push harder for a reform of some EU policies, in order to better address Italian citizens' needs and worries, Niglia explained.
Their solution for slowing down the populist wave among the electorate (Italian and European) would be to call for "more Europe", not less, but better functioning.
This position would be represented at most by Italy's center-left Democratic Party (PD), which was leading the current coalition government.
On the contrary, euro-sceptic (or simply anti-euro) parties would feel time has come "to give the final push" against the European Union, according to Niglia.
Strongest on this front would be Italy's populist Five Star Movement (M5S) -- currently the largest opposition force, and neck-to-neck with center-left PD in latest opinion polls -- and anti-immigration Northern League party.
The outcome of the German vote would possibly affect Italian parties' strategies in another way, leading business daily Il Sole 24 commented on Tuesday.
"A major topic will be the 'grand coalition', for which the two main German parties (CDU/CSU and SPD) have paid a high price, and especially German Social Democrats," political analyst Lina Palmerini wrote.
This was expected to be the "big taboo" of the Italian campaign, according to Il Sole. "The perspective (of a grand coalition) will be dismissed from both the left and the right, putting both sides in troubles."
It would be difficult for leftist and center-left forces, because it was not yet clear what possible alliance able to govern they could form, Palmerini explained.
As for the center-right, it would struggle as well, considering the "tight negotiations" ongoing between former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi's center-right Forza Italia (FI) party and the Northern League.
Whatever steps Italian parties will decide to take, however, some dynamics seen in Germany were to be repeated in Italy's next campaign, according to the head of the European Program with Rome-based Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI), Antonio Villafranca.
"The trend towards the weakening of mainstream parties has just emerged in Germany, as it did in other countries in recent years, and it is likely to develop in Italy as well," Villafranca told Xinhua.
"Current opinion polls related to the next general elections show in fact a condition of wide fragmentation within our political landscape," he explained. "As a result, it will be probably difficult to form a government, whatever side is going to win elections."