One thing is certain – the current Center-Left party is going down in defeat. The emergence of populist and anti-Islam right wing parties in Italy’s election could result in a hung parliament with a right-wing alliance likely to win the most votes but no majority after a campaign dominated by anger against immigration.
The National With over half the ballots from Sunday’s vote counted, the right-wing coalition was at 37 per cent, including the far-right, Eurosceptic League party with 18 per cent and media mogul Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia (Go Italy) party with 14 per cent.
That raises the prospect of League leader Matteo Salvini, who has promised to shut down Roma camps, deport hundreds of thousands of Muslim migrants and tackle the “danger” of Islam, becoming Italy’s next prime minister.
The anti-establishment Five Star Movement, which has drawn support from Italians fed up with traditional parties and a lack of economic opportunity, was second with 31 per cent.
“The March 4 vote yielded a result that Europe was afraid of and Italy perhaps did not expect on this scale,” columnist Marcello Sorgi wrote in La Stampa daily. “Defeated everywhere else in Europe, populism won here. Either it can govern or it will block the system.”
The boost for far-right and populist parties has drawn comparisons to Britain’s vote to leave the European Union and the rise of US President Donald Trump. “The European Union is going to have a bad night,” Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s National Front, tweeted.
The absence of an overall majority could mean weeks or months of negotiations to form a new government, however. Resentment at the hundreds of thousands of migrant arrivals in Italy in recent years fired up the campaign, along with frustration about social inequalities.