Tuesday, 19 June, 2018

Berlusconi's right-wing coalition ahead in Italy vote but no majority: Exit polls

Italy votes in uncertain election stalked by populism Italy votes in uncertain election stalked by populism
Jan Cook | 07 March, 2018, 00:27

Giancarlo Giorgetti, vice-secretary of Salvini's League, told reporters after first result's projections appeared that the party was satisfied with the general election achievement, which he called "historic".

The maverick populist Five Star Movement (M5S) was the night's success story, sweeping Italy's south to become the single leading party in terms of votes.

Italy is now governed by a centre-left coalition led by the Democratic Party, but this was lagging in the polls with 24.5% to 27.5% of the vote.

This means Italy faces a hung Parliament and can take a long time to form a government.

Financial markets opened lower Monday on the news and were volatile.

"Ungovernable Italy", read the headline in La Stampa.

Five-Star's seats in combination with the PD, perhaps with extra support by the far-left Free and Equal party, is another possibility.

According to the results released by Italy's interior ministry, a center-right coalition that included Berlusconi's Forza Italia party and the anti-immigrant League won about 37 percent of the vote.

Within the alliance, former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia (Go Italy!) was seen winning 12.5-15.5 percent, the same as the League, which has allied itself to anti-immigration, anti-Islam parties across Europe.

"I'm not saying it has to be me, but our team is ready", he said, adding that "deals between friends are kept".

The 5-Star, led by 31-year-old Luigi Di Maio, was forecast to take 29.0-32.5 percent, which would be a remarkable result for a group that was only formed in 2009.

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Di Maio spoke less than an hour after the head of the League made the same claim on the part of the center-right coalition, which collectively has more votes than the 5-Stars.

Beaten by the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement and a centre-right coalition dominated by the eurosceptic League, Renzi acknowledged the defeat at PD headquarters in Rome.

"The vote has radically transformed Italy's political landscape and its repercussions will be long-lasting", said political analyst Wolfango Piccoli.

As the initial results came in, Le Pen also tweeted, "The European Union is having a bad evening".

The anti-establishment Five Star Movement and the far-right euro-sceptic League party were the big winners of the election, which laid bare widespread anger over immigration and frustration with mainstream politics. He will choose someone to try to form a government as he cajoles former rivals to get over the rancour of the campaign.

The former prime minister warned about "a wind of extremism" in Italy and ruled out his party acting as a "crutch" for any future populist government.

Brexit firebrand Nigel Farage congratulated the Five Star Movement, his allies in the European Parliament, "for topping the poll" as by far Italy's biggest single party.

It will now be up to President Sergio Mattarella, a constitutional scholar, to sound out the political parties to determine who has the best chances of forming a government.

The League jumped from 4 percent of the vote five years ago to almost 18 percent in Sunday's vote, ahead of Forza Italia, which had almost 14 percent.

"These election results, if they are confirmed, clearly changes the political scenario, creating a new situation posing problems for all the parties across the board", said Stefano Folli, political commentator at Rome daily La Repubblica.

"We will work to modify and remove certain European parameters". The other big victor from a ballot that will shake the rest of Europe was the hard right, populist Northern League, riding a wave of alarm in Italy over the arrival in recent years of hundreds of thousands of migrants.

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