[WATCH] Italy election delivers a hung parliament; Five Star Movement wins big

Exit polls suggest the Five Star Movement created by comedian Beppe Grillo has obtained the largest share of the vote • Silvio Berlusconi’s centre-right grouping is the largest coalition • Matteo Salvini's Lega could be largest party in Berlusconi's coalition

Italians voted on Sunday to elect their parliament, and hopefully their government
Italians voted on Sunday to elect their parliament, and hopefully their government

Italy’s election has returned a hung parliament as voters backed right-wing and populist parties, according to exit polls.

While the Five Star Movement emerged as the largest political party according to exit polls, former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi's right-wing coalition looks set to win the most seats in the lower house of parliament.

The centre-right coalition is made up of Forza Italia, Lega and Fratelli D’Italia. It is tipped to get 248-268 seats - below the 316 needed for a majority.

However, the Lega is likely to be the largest party in the coalition, putting its fiery leader Matteo Salvini in pole position to be the coalition’s candidate for prime minister.

The Democratic Party led by Matteo Renzi has crashed, with exit polls putting its range of support between 20% and 23%. The centre-left coalition led by the Democratic Party is likely to have the third largest seat share in the lower house, with an estimated 107-127 seats. This puts the coalition behind the Five Star Movement and the centre-right coalition.

The Five Star Movement is expected to take the most seats - around 102-122, but miss out on a majority.

"It is clear to us that this is a blatant and clear defeat," said Agriculture Minister Maurizio Martina.

The exit polls published half an hour after polling stations closed at 11pm, showed the Five Star Movement with a range of support between 29.5% and 32.5% in the lower house. The movement also captured the largest share of the vote in the senate.

However, the Eurosceptic movement will not be able to govern alone.

The results will lead to weeks of political horse trading in a bid to form a working government, if at all.

Turnout for Sunday’s election was high at 73.2% and queues were reported in various polling stations.

But the cherry on the cake was a topless woman activist from the group Femen, who jumped up on the table as Berlusconi entered the polling station to vote. She was shouting at the former prime minister, telling him that his time was up before being escorted out of the building by security.

The leader of the Northern League said he had lost weight while hunting for votes around the country, so would be eating “six kilos of polenta with ossobuco” that night. “I won’t say salami or pork because some may get offended. Long live sausage! Long live salami! Long live pork, coppa and pancetta,” he told a cheering crowd in the northeastern city of Padua.

After the quip about Muslim pork consumption, he became serious on his plans to rid Italy of illegal immigrants. “Guys, we have imported a few good people,” Salvini said. “But there has also been a tide of delinquents and I want to send them home, from the first to the last. We are packed with drug dealers, rapists, burglars – and the League is the solution.”

The full result is not due until much later on Monday.

Forming a government may take weeks of negotiation and coalition-building. Alternatively, fresh elections could be held in a bid to produce a more decisive result.


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