Betting on politics: Italy throws a surprise

My predictions regarding the Italian elections at the weekend went poorly. The PD were nearly beaten into third place by the League and, while there will be a lot of horsetrading, the League’s strong showing means that under the terms of its deal with Forza Italia, it will be in charge of selecting the centre-right’s candidate for prime minister, meaning that Antonio  Tajani, Berlusconi’s preferred choice, is unlikely to get the job.

However, there was better news in Germany where the SPD’s membership renewed the party’s “grand coalition” deal with Chancellor Angela Merkel. So after several months of haggling, both our bets on Merkel being re-elected chancellor, and of a CDU/CSU+SPD coalition taking power, will finally pay off.

One of the most interesting current betting opportunities is Ladbrokes’ book on who will win Political Commentator of the Year at the Press Awards next week. The favourite is Stephen Bush (pictured), for the New Statesman and the i paper, at 5/4 (44%). In second place is Marina Hyde (The Guardian) at 5/2 (28.9%). John Harris (also The Guardian), Rachel Sylvester (The Times) and Katy Balls (i) are each at 6/1 (14.2%). Dan Hodges, for The Mail on Sunday, is priced at 20/1 (4.7%).

I don’t have any insider press knowledge, but from reading their columns over the past year, I think the winners are very likely to be either Bush or Sylvester – so I’d bet on both for combined odds of 58.7%. I would split a £10 betting unit, with £7.56 on Bush and £2.44 on Sylvester.