Italians vote in country's general elections

Italians vote in country's general elections

Kerry Wise
March 5, 2018

Rome's city hall urged voters to head out as soon as possible, or at least an hour before polls close at 11 p.m. (2200 GMT) Sunday. Results are expected by early Monday morning.

The activist, who had the words "FEMEN" scrawled on her back, was surrounded by a sea of photographers at the Milan polling station where Berlusconi, 81, had just cast his vote.

The M5S appears to be the single largest party, banking on its anti-establishment, anti-corruption, and poverty, with the ruling center-left bloc led by the Democratic Party (PD) in third place.

A hung Parliament would trigger an extended period of horse-trading among the parties.

It is said to be one of the most unpredictable contests the country has ever seen. There was too much mud-slinging during the campaign.

Will a toxic election campaign lead to a far-right future for Italy? Even if you find a job, wages are so low that it is hardly worth working.

Analysts predicted the only coalition with a shot of reaching an absolute majority is the center-right, which aside from Berlusconi's Forza Italia includes the anti-migrant League and the nationalistic, neofascist-rooted Brothers of Italy party.

The last opinion polls before the vote put Berlusconi's coalition in the lead with 37 percent, followed by the Five Star Movement with 28 percent and the center-left with 27 percent.

Berlusconi's Forza Italia and the anti-immigrant League each were polling at between 12.5 per cent and 15.5 per cent.

However, the Five Star Movement has said it does not wish to enter into coalition with any other party, undercutting the prospect of a stable government emerging in the coming weeks.

League leader Matteo Salvini at a rally in Turin on Tuesday
League leader Matteo Salvini at a rally in Turin on Tuesday

Although all party leaders have ruled out any post-election alliances with rivals, Italy has a long history of finding a way out of apparently intractable political stalemate.

Heavily indebted Italy is the third-largest economy in the eurozone and prolonged political stalemate could reawaken the threat of market instability.

A new law passed past year, ostensibly to make Italy more governable, calls for a combination of direct and proportional voting for both the lower Chamber of deputies, which has 630 seats, and the Senate, which has 315 seats.

Italy is bracing for the outcome of general elections pitting a resurgent but scandal-prone ex-premier, Silvio Berlusconi, against the populist anti-establishment Five Star Movement. "If the centre-right doesn't get a majority, a lot will depend on whether Five Star opens up to the idea of a coalition".

The disgraced "Bunga Bunga" leader's picture flawless smile vanished as the woman jumped on a table yelling "Berlusconi, your time has run out".

Berlusconi's centre-right coalition, which includes the far-right League and Brothers of Italy, is expected to win the most seats but likely fall short of a working majority, but he can not personally stand for office because of a 2013 conviction for tax fraud.

Mr Tajani's moderate profile is aimed at allaying fears in Europe about his populist allies, notably the League, whose leader Matteo Salvini has promised to deport the 600,000 boat migrants who have arrived in Italy over the past four years.

FEMEN is a radical feminist group that was founded in Ukraine in 2008 and quickly grew famous across Europe for pulling topless stunts at major political events.

Steve Bannon - who helped Donald Trump win the White House - told the New York Times that Italy's election was "pure populism". Chancellor Angela Merkel's party remained the biggest force in the German Parliament despite the rise of the anti-immigrant AfD.

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