Italy elections: Center-right bloc wins minus majority

Five Star has said that it will not make coalitions, but the most likely outcome is a government led by the populists in some form, Santi said.

Italians voted in parliamentary elections Sunday after a divisive campaign over immigration and a sagging economy, and an exit poll showed a center-right coalition with a slight edge over the anti-establishment Five Star Movement party.

The right wing bloc may well get enough seats to form a government: centre-right - Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia, further to the right - Matteo Salvini's League, and further right still - the Brothers of Italy.

"We have a programme, a team".

"They've said that we're corrupt, mafiosi and that we have blood on our hands due to immigration".

With 99 percent of the vote counted Monday evening, the traditional center-left and center-right parties combined had managed to beat Five Star's 32.6 percent vote total by only a sliver of a percentage point - a collapse for them and a confirmation of the new populist power. Its message clearly resonated with young people searching for jobs, and with voters in the poorer south of the country.

Berlusconi was the other big loser on Sunday and he was the only party leader not to hold a press conference afterward.

"Everything will change", read the front page of Il Fatto Quotidiano, which like the M5S has railed against what it sees as the "corrupt" old parties.

Matteo Renzi pictured during his resignation speech.

Anti-European Union parties made a huge leap in Italy's general election, but no party has (so far) come away with a majority.

Like Salvini, the leader of M5S said the movement takes its responsibility seriously and that the party was ready to govern.

Oxford Economics, a consultancy, said in a research note that "Italy's election has delivered a hung parliament with a decidedly populist flavor" and that the result risks weighing on Italy's fragile economic recovery in the wake of the financial crisis.

The possible alliance between the League and Five Star will also delight former Donald Trump advisor Steve Bannon, who called that coalition "the ultimate dream".

The right-wing coalition is predicted to get 118-150 seats in the upper house, and the Democratic Party 42-54.

"The vote has radically transformed Italy's political landscape and its repercussions will be long-lasting", said political analyst Wolfango Piccoli.

Parliament has until the summer to form a government. "The question is therefore what the third bloc will do". Such a combination would give the PD, which is still, for now, headed by the former prime minister Matteo Renzi, an important seat at the negotiating table and would likely lead to some dampening down of the M5S in government. Di Maio has acknowledged that Italy should accept refugees escaping war-torn countries but is tired of the influx of migrants. While the League still says it wants to leave the single currency at the earliest feasible moment, the 5-Star says the time for quitting the euro has passed.

But the process would take time as consultations could only start after parliament's newly-elected lawmakers meet for the first time on March 23 to elect speakers of the two houses of parliament.

  • Leroy Wright