Italy heads for hung parliament chaos
Exit polls in Italy suggest a right-of-centre alliance led by former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia has the best chance of forming Italy’s next government, despite the eurosceptic 5-Star Movement (M5S) gaining the most votes.
Rai’s exit poll said M5S gained 31.5 per cent of the vote, while the ruling centre-left Democratic Party received 21 per cent.
M5S has said it would not join a coalition government.
Forza Italia took 16 per cent of the vote, 1 per cent fewer than its alliance partner, the far-right League, formally the Northern League, which also received around 16-per-cent support. Brothers of Italy, which also forms part of the coalition, managed to pull 4 per cent of the vote, placing the bloc in the lead.
The 81-year-old Berlusconi’s alliance would still fall short of the 40 per cent necessary to govern. A hung parliament will probably mean Italian President Sergio Mattarella will form the next government. The 2013 election resulted in a hung parliament and former president Giorgio Napolitano handpicked the government.
About 50 per cent of Italians who voted yesterday (Sunday) supported populist parties.
The ruling left-of-centre Democratic Party has already admitted defeat after coming third, according to projections. “This is a very clear defeat for us,” said minister Maurizio Martina. “We are expecting a result below our expectations … This is very clearly a negative result for us.”
Democratic Senator Andrea Marcucci posted on Facebook: “Voters have spoken very clearly and irrefutably. The populists have won and the Democratic Party has lost.”
It was the Democratic Party’s poorest ever showing in a national election, continuing a Europe-wide collapse of the left, and putting into doubt the future of its once-promising leader, former prime minister Matteo Renzi.
One glimmer of hope for Renzi is the possibility of forming a broad coalition with Forza Italia but joined they would still lack the numbers to form a government.
With the billionaire media tycoon set to clinch a fourth election victory under a complicated new Italian election law, it has been suggested Matteo Salvini, the firebrand League chief, might displace Berlusconi within the centre-right coalition.
Under a “gentleman’s agreement”, the party which emerges as the winner between the two will choose the next prime minister, if the alliance wins a majority.
Berlusconi is not eligible to become prime minister because of a tax conviction, but said he would choose Antonio Tajani, the European Parliament president, for the job.
A feminist protester hijacks Silvio Berlusconi’s visit to the polling station. Picture credit: YouTube