They’re still counting the votes in Italy… But the early projections are contradicting exit polls predicting, as the Guardian reported, “strong support for alliance led by Pier Luigi Bersani’s Democratic party and bloody nose for Mario Monti”. Not contradicting the bloody nose for
the Borg Mario Monti, that is. But Silvio Berlusoni’s centre-right alliance seems to be edging ahead in the Senate, at least…
Before the Chamber of Deputies projections arrived, Stefano Fassino of Bersani’s leftwing Democratic party was predicting another election:
“The scenario from the projections we have seen so far suggest there will be no stable government and we would need to return to the polls.”
It was unrealistic to imagine a broad coalition between the centre-left and the centre-right led by Silvio Berlusconi, he told Rai.
And, as the BBC Europe editor Gavin Hewitt tweeted
If these instant polls in Italy are accurate, it means one in five voters cast their vote for a comedian!
— Gavin Hewitt (@BBCGavinHewitt) February 25, 2013
Update Still no definite result in Italy. But from the Guardian’s last post of the night, “courtesy of John Hooper and Lizzy Davies in Rome“.
Italy on Monday night risked pitching into political turmoil as projections of the result of its general election pointed to a hung parliament and confirmed that the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S), led by an ex-comedian, Beppe Grillo, had exploded onto the national stage.
Projections suggested on balance that the centre-left would take the lower house, the Chamber of Deputies, by a tiny margin. But they also indicated that a resurgent right led by Silvio Berlusconi would have slightly more seats – though not necessarily more votes – in the Senate.
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.
European leaders have been desperate to see a stable government in Italy, and are likely to be horrified and aghast at the triumph of populism in the eurozone’s third biggest economy. The likely results threatens to reignite the question of the euro’s stability following months of relative calm.
And The BBC reports the latest state of play
Other European countries have urged Italian politicians to create a stable government as soon as possible – with France and Germany urging continued reform, and Spain describing the result as a “jump to nowhere”.
In his first speech since the elections on Sunday and Monday, Mr Bersani said: “We are aware that we are in a dramatic situation, we are aware of the risks that Italy faces.”
His centre-left bloc won the lower house vote but failed to secure a majority in the Senate. Control of both houses is needed to govern.
A protest movement led by comedian Beppe Grillo won 25%, but the centrist bloc led by current Prime Minister Mario Monti came a poor fourth, with about 10%.
The outcome of the election, which comes amid a deep recession and tough austerity measures, was so close between the two main blocs that the margin of victory given in interior ministry figures was less than 1% in both houses of parliament.
The winning bloc automatically gets a majority in the lower house. But the same is not true in the Senate, where seat allocations are decided by region and can conflict with the national vote.