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With Italy approaching decisive parliamentary elections on March 4, such historical references are useful once again.Owing to a new electoral law, around 40 percent of parliamentary seats will be decided by first-past-the-post voting, with the rest allocated proportionally.Second, the election will leave Italy divided, not just politically and socially, but also geographically.An Austrian-style alliance between Berlusconi's Forza Italia and Matteo Salvini's Northern League would also bode ill, because it would put Italy at odds with the rest of the European Union's founding members.Whatever the outcome of this uncertain election, it will have far-reaching implications not just for Italy and the EU, but for the cause of democracy worldwide. What kind of Italy will we see after March 4? Will it be one that joins with French President Emmanuel Macron in reinforcing the European project, or will it embrace the authoritarian populism now running rampant in Central Europe? Whether or not they realize it, Italy's voters are about to choose not just among political parties, but also – and more importantly – between political regimes.
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