Italian centre-left wins Sardinian election, Murgia's pro-sovereignty coalition left outside Council

Coalition led by Francesco Pigliaru gets 60% of seats despite only getting 42% of the votes thanks to controversial electoral law · Votes to pro-sovereignty parties (18%) double if compared to 2009, but division among them dilutes impact · Murgia says electoral law "undemocratic"

Italian center-left candidate Francesco Pigliaru (left picture) will be the new president of Sardinia after winning the most votes (42.4%) in Sunday election. Pigliaru defeated outgoing president Ugo Cappellacci (Italian center-right), who got 39.6 % of the vote. Pro-independence candidate Michela Murgia (Possible Sardinia) came third, with 10.3% of the vote. The composition of the new Council (Sardinian Parliament), however, will bear little resemblance to those figures.

Electoral laws sometimes cause some mismatches between votes and representation. What has happened in Sardinia, however, is difficult to swallow. It must be said from the start that voters were called to choose two different things. On the one hand, they had to elect the name of next Sardinia's President. And on the other, they had to choose the composition of the Council, to which they had to pick one political party. Almost all parties run in coalitions, and each coalition was headed by one of the candidates running for presidency.

The Sardinian electoral law provides that the presidential candidate with the most votes is elected as the new president of Sardinia. But the complication of this -and even the incongruence- comes when one knows that the 60 Council members are not distributed exactly according to the votes to parties. Thus, if the winning presidential candidate gets more than 40% of the vote (this is Pigliaru's case), the coalition led by him or her is automatically assigned 60% of the Council seats (regardless of whether voters have really awarded 60% of the votes to the coalition parties).

Thus, Pigliaru's Italian centre-left coalition has been assigned 36 out of 60 seats although its parties have only won 42.4% of the votes. An even more bizarre effect: Cappellacci's Italian centre-right coalition won more votes than Pigliaru's (43.9% of the vote, a point and a half more than the center-left coalition). But since Cappellacci was defeated by Pigliaru in the presidential election, the center-right parties have been left in minority in the Council.

Michela Murgia-led coalition outside the Council

Another surprising effect is that many voters will be left without representation in Sardinia's next Council. The electoral law sets a threshold of 10% for coalitions in order to get seats in the Council. Michela Murgia, as a candidate, scored 10.3% of the votes, but her Possible Sardinia coalition stood at 6.8%. As a result, Possible Sardinia has been left without a single seat in the Sardinian Parliament. The same goes for the pro-autonomy coalition led by Mauro Pili: with 5.4% of the vote, its parties will not make it into the Council. Murgia yesterday said her coalition had been left outside the Council because of an "undemocratic" law.

Thus, only the two major Italian coalitions will have seats in the new Council. Pigliaru's Democratic Party will be the strongest party: according to provisional data, the PD will be assigned 20 out of 60 seats. And this, although the PD only got 22.1% of the total votes. The second strongest party will be Cappellacci's Forza Italia, with 10 seats. A long list of parties is left behind, none of which with more than 5 seats.

More support to pro-sovereignty Sardinian forces

Expectations created about the emergence of a strong pro-sovereignty bloc in the Council have vanished as Murgia's coalition has gathered 6.8% of the votes. However, a closer look at the results of different pro-sovereignty political parties allow us to realize that, in fact, votes to those parties have doubled if compared to 2009: they have now about 18% of the vote, while five years ago they stood at 9%.

The Sardinian Action Party (which is a member of the Italian centre-right coalition) has been the Sardinian-only strongest party, with 4.7% of the vote. The three lists that made up Possible Sardinia coalition have gathered a further 6.8%. The Party of Sardinians, the Rossomori and Independence Republic of Sardinia (all three within the Italian centre-left coalition) have reached 2.7%, 2.6% and 0.8% of the votes. And the United Pro-independence Front -which ran in its own- has got 0.7%.

Still talking about provisional data, the Sardinian Action Party, the Party of Sardinians and the Rossomori will have two seats each. That is, the pro-sovereignty parties will have one tenth of the Council's total seats, despite having won almost a third of the votes. To this, it must be added that the pro-autonomy parties supporting Pili will have no seats.