Italian establishment on notice as voters elect new parliament

World Today

ITALY-ELECTIONS-VOTE-PARLIAMENT-2018 Far-right Lega Nord party leader Matteo Salvini votes for general elections on March 4, 2018 at a polling station in Milan. Italians vote today in one of the country’s most uncertain elections, with far-right and populist parties expected to make major gains. (AFP PHOTO / Piero CRUCIATTI)

Italy is at a crossroads, as citizens cast their ballots to elect their next leadership. The emotional debate over immigration and a lackluster economy is prominent in the election, and voters have a range of choices on the left and the right.

CGTN’s Kate Parkinson reports from Rome.

Follow Kate Parkinson on Twitter @KateParkinsonUK

Throughout the day, Italians cast their votes to elect a new government and a new prime minister. Change is on the horizon, but which way the winds will blow is far from clear.

Pollsters say the ruling center-left Democratic Party is likely to perform badly.

“I hope the average Italian will understand that we need to turn the page,” one voter said. “Turn the page, and that will bring down the government that we have right now.”

Which party or coalition will win, or even if there will be a winner at all, is not clear.

Luigi di Maio, the young leader of the Five Star Movement, thinks he has a shot at being the next prime minister. The populist party has tapped into a growing discontent over austerity and high unemployment, particularly among the young, and is expected to get the most amount of votes.

Polls, however, predict Five Star will not get the 40% needed to form a government.

A right-wing coalition is expected to emerge as the largest parliamentary bloc, but polls also predict this coalition will fall short of a majority. Additionally, a tax fraud conviction bars former prime minister and current coalition leader Silvio Berlusconi from taking the top job.

Berlusconi’s partners include far-right party the League, whose leader Matteo Salvini has promised to deport the 600,000 migrants who have arrived in Italy by boat over the past few years.

Some pollsters say the League could outperform Berlsuconi’s own party, giving the far-right a strong voice in Italy’s parliament. But the most likely outcome, according to the same polls, is a hung parliament.

Voting places remain open until 11 P.M local time, with the results not likely to be known until Monday. If the vote ends in a hung parliament, days or weeks of backroom haggling and horse trading can be expected.

If those negotiations fail, Italy may have to start from square one and hold fresh elections.


Matteo Garavoglia discusses pivotal Italian parliamentary elections

Italy is at a crossroads as citizens cast their ballots to elect their next leadership. The emotional debate over immigration and a lackluster economy featured prominent in the election, and voters had a range of choices on the left and the right. Matteo Garavoglia, a research associate at the Centre for International Studies at the University of Oxford, discusses with CGTN’s Wang Guan.