Upon the news that Barack Obama won a second term as President of the United States, Italy started overflowing with joy and relief. I was stopped by several colleagues yesterday, asking about my opinion and sharing their own about the outcome. Text messages arrived on my cell phone. The TV was ablaze with news. The Italians really follow our election campaigns, especially in the last few months.
In the few days leading up to the big US vote, I had to do my usual explanation about the electoral college vote. Honestly, I never understood the system myself until I started living abroad and had to explain it to others. Funny how that goes.
There are several voting differences between USA and Italy:
1) In Italy, they can vote for a party, but cannot directly vote for the specific candidate representing that party.
2) They only recently introduced the "primaries" and it is currently being performed by just one party: Partito Democratico. And anybody can vote for in that primary election - including people who would be "registered" as voters of a different party, if that were required in voting registration (which it is not).
3) There is no absentee ballot if you live in Italy. If you are registered in Calabria but working in Milan, too bad. You need to get your butt down to Calabria if you want to vote.
4) Referendums are performed as separate votes on different days from general elections. It can cause a hassle to get to your home town to vote, since you do not have an absentee option. It is also a considerable expense to organize the voting centers so every time they are opened, for elections or referendums, it comes at extra cost to the nation.
5) You vote here on Sunday and Monday
6) The vote is a popular vote.