ROME – Italy was on course for a hung parliament following a general election that saw voters shun mainstream parties for anti-establishment and right-wing groups, according to the two latest ballot counts made available on Monday.
A center-right coalition, led by the anti-immigration League party and former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, was set to garner 35.9 percent of the vote for parliament’s lower house while the populist Five Star Movement (M5S), an euroskeptic formation founded by a comedian in 2009, was on course to become the largest individual grouping with 32.2 percent.
It marked a major defeat for the former governing Democratic Party of Matteo Renzi and outgoing PM Paolo Gentiloni, which sat behind M5S and the center-right coalition with an estimated 18.9 percent of the vote, although no political grouping was endowed with enough support to reach the required 316 seats in parliament for a governing majority.
Several options were on the table as leaders head into negotiations: either the M5S breaks with its stated anti-coalition stance and negotiates with other parties to form a government, or the center-right alliance launches a bid to establish a minority government.
Within the center-right formation itself, the right-wing League party surpassed polling expectations and was on track to take 17.7 percent of the vote while Berlusconi’s Forza Italia trailed behind with 13.9 percent, the nationalist Brothers of Italy looked to take 4.3 percent and the Christian Democratic Us with Italy party was set to take home 1.3 percent of the vote share.