It's a tight race to the finish today -- some polls show Pier Luigi Bersani's Center-Left party with a strong lead over former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's Center-Right party. But protest votes may throw a wrench in the works, and conflicting reports also show Berlusconi's party taking the lead in the Senate race.
And that's all without taking about the incumbent Premier, Mario Monti, or the comedian-turned-potential PM, Beppe Grillo.Check back here for the latest updates on projections, results and fallout from Italy's high-stakes election.
|@ duncanmcdonnell : Amid the confusion, today provides 1 nice reminder: Italian democracy's fate is not solely in hands of the markets, the EU, or editorials.|
The latest figures released by the interior ministry shows a 0,72% margin between the Centre-left and the Centre-right coalitions.
Outgoing Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti said on Monday that no country has such a bad electoral law as Italy. Monti added that he is satisfied with results of his centrist coalition.
|@ CiancioTR : Monti says no country has such a bad electoral law as Italy #italyreuters #italyvote|
According to HuffPost Italy, if the Centre-left coalition wins in the norther region of Piedmont, the Senate results would be overturned and the Democratic Party would win with a relative majority.
The Guardian reporters John Hooper and Lizzy Davies recap the biggest events of the day and come to a sobering conclusion.They write:
Crucially, it seemed certain that neither right nor left could obtain an outright majority in the upper house, where the balance would be held by the M5S. So far, Grillo has ruled out supporting either side in his drive to sweep away Italy’s existing political parties and the cronyistic culture they support.
Exceeding even the most adventurous pre-electoral predictions, the populist M5S was set to emerge as Italy’s biggest single party - a result that will send shock waves through the eurozone and beyond. Because it is running alone and not in a coalition, however, Grillo’s movement lagged the two big alliances in the number of seats.
The emerging result indicated that fresh elections were a strong possibility and, at best, foreshadowed a weak government unable to pass the tough reforms Italy needs to enhance its grim economic prospects.
Read the full analysis on the Guardian website.
|@ AP : Stocks plunge as investors worry that Italy could be seized with political paralysis; Dow drops 216: http://t.co/cAavWvIAuU -RJJ|
The Guardian explains Italy's complicated election laws, and recaps the latest results:
Election laws in Italy mean the biggest party in the Chamber of Deputies is guaranteed a 54% majority. But the Senate has no such "majority bonus". The latest projection from Rai shows Berlusconi's bloc winning 112 Senate seats, the centre-left 105, Grillo 64, with Monti's centrists on only 20. The Senate majority is 158.
Read more from The Guardian here.
Beppe Grillo spoke for the first time since the closing of the polls, thanking all his supporters for "a fantastic adventure."
Grillo added on his movement's YouTube channel that Italy's two main parties have failed. "They have been around for the past 25 years, they embody Italy's problem."
"Handing back the country to Silvio Berlusconi for six months, or a year, is a crime against the galaxy, against the entire galaxy," Grillo also said.
|@ beppe_grillo : Interverrò in diretta streaming alle ore 21.30 su La Cosa! Seguite la diretta su http://t.co/5gE4Wy6JR9 #TsunamiTour|
Catherine Hornby collected reactions from several disappointed Italians for Reuters.
"I am considering leaving Italy, it's the first time I've ever felt like this. The Centre Left has to win in the Chamber of Deputies to avoid a major disaster," 70-year-old retired teacher Vito told Horny.
"If the projections are true the country will be ungovernable. For us this will be the worst. I voted for the PD," says union worker Ferrucio Fiorot, 58. "The crisis is evident. We need to make the country grow, put money in people's pockets so they can spend. With all the unemployed this downturn has created, industry failing, even food spending down, how can you say this is not a crisis? If we don't do something we'll end up like Greece," he said.
Read more on fron Hornby on the Reuters website.
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The BBC reports that European officials would prefer to see a coalition between current Prime Minister Mario Monti and the Centre-Left group of Bersani.
The BBC explains:
Correspondents say Italy's EU partners and the financial markets want to see a stable outcome to the election, with a commitment to reform and debt-reduction.
The BBC's Europe editor, Gavin Hewitt, says Brussels and Berlin would like to see Mr Bersani form a governing coalition with Mr Monti.
They fear that an uncertain outcome could lead to Greek-style paralysis in the eurozone's third largest economy, he says.
Read the full story here.
-- Eline Gordts
|@ AlecMacGillis : On same day Italians hold crazy election, researchers announce Mediterranean diet cuts health risks 1/3. So: Berlusconi forever.|
Dear Bersani, if you really want the Democratic Party to finally win the elections, resign and leave your seat to Matteo Renzi.
As the Centre-Right coalition appears to lead in the Senate, supporters of Centre-Left Democratic coalition took to twitter to voice their discontent with its leader Pier Luigi Bersani. Tweeps called for the return of Matteo Renzi, who lost his party's primary against Bersani.
|@ NaomiOhReally : Latest projection of Senate means either Berlusconi or Bersani would need 5-Star to reach majority of 158 seats #italyreuters #italyvote|
|@ bruce_arthur : This @DougSaunders piece on Italy in 2006 explains why it could fall for Berlusconi again, and is so brilliant: fast http://t.co/UCQ5NxeDFd|
A tycoon, a professor, a politician, a comedian, a magistrate and a journalist face off to run an economically troubled country. Welcome to Italy's 2013 election. Joining the conversation are Nicholas Sabloff, Huffington Post Executive International Editor and Davide Tramballi.
Former Italian Prime Minister casted his ballot at a polling station on Sunday.
Conflicting early forecasts of the result of Italy's election on Monday raised the spectre of deadlock in parliament that could paralyse a new government and re-ignite the euro zone crisis.
Officials from both centre and left warned that such gridlock could make Italy ungovernable and force new elections.
Opinion polls have long pointed to the centre-left of Pier Luigi Bersani winning the lower house, but projections from RAI state television showed Silvio Berlusconi's centre right in front in the Senate - which has equal lawmaking power - but unable to form a majority.
Read the full story here.
Previous predictions which hinted Berlusconi's coalition would win the Chamber of Deputies are now contradicted by the news results indicating the centre-left would get 33,52% of the vote and the centre-right 25,09%, according to HuffPost Italy.
|@ NaomiOhReally : Rai poll: centre-left plus Monti would still have fewer seats than Berlusconi's centre-right. 5-Star is kingmaker #italyreuters #italyvote|
HuffPost Italy reveals that the latests prediction issued by Rai/Piepoli shows deadlock in the Senate, with both the Centre-Right and Centre-Left coalition winning 30,7% of the vote.
The polling website Youtrend.it has published a wonderful interactive map showing the change in voter turnout in Italy between the 2013 general election and previous electoral cycles. The greater the decrease in voter turnout, the darker red a province appears on the map. So far, all of Italy is in the red, with the greatest decreases appearing to be concentrated in Lombardy, Campania, Calabria and Sicily.
A torn electoral poster shows center-right coalition leader Silvio Berlusconi in Rome, Monday, Feb. 25, 2013. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
Over two hours and a half after the closing of the polls, no declarations have been heard from Gianfranco Fini and Pierferdinando Casini, both allied to Mario Monti, reports HuffPost Italy.
Sandro Bondi, Berlusconi's longtime loyal devotee praises the Cavaliere: "The extraordinary result predicted for the centre-right coalition is exclusively due to Silvio Berlusconi, the architect of this memorable endeavor," according to HuffPost Italy.