Populist parties have made gains in Italy’s parliamentary elections, though there was no clear winner, initial reports suggested. The anti-establishment Five Star Movement, led by 31-year-old Luigi di Maio, is projected to be the single-largest party, winning more than 32% of the vote, CNN reported. But they will still be short of the 40% required to form a government.
“That would mean the Five Star Movement will be the pillar of the next legislature,” Politico quoted Alfonso Bonafede, a Five Star legislator, as saying.
The centre-right coalition that former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi put together – it includes his Forza Italia, Matteo Salvini’s far-right League and the neo-fascist Brothers of Italy – is projected to win 35.5% of the votes.
The xenophobic League, formerly known as the Northern League, is expected to have a vote share of 16%, and Berlusconi’s party is likely to win 14% of the votes. “What interests us is reaching 40% with our coalition and winning, so we don’t consider these preliminary results a victory yet,” Politico quoted Gianmarco Centinaio, a senator for the League, as saying.
If the League ends up winning more votes than Forz Italia, Salvini is likely to have a stronger claim to lead the next government than whoever former Prime Minister Berlusconi selects. Berlusconi is barred from contesting elections after his conviction in a case of tax evasion.
Meanwhile, the incumbent centre-left Democratic Party is facing its worst showing in national elections and is projected to come third with just 19.6% votes, The New York Times reported. It will throw into doubt the future of Matteo Renzi, its leader and a former prime minister.