Election projections in Italy point to hung Parliament

Election projections in Italy early Monday showed a center-right coalition that includes an anti-migrant party edging past the populist 5-Star Movement but no single bloc or party with the support to win a majority in Parliament.

If confirmed by official results, the outcome could set the stage for weeks of political haggling to forge a new government.

An RAI State TV projection from Sunday’s election showed the center-right bloc in front, with 35.5 percent, and the center-left, which includes the Democratic Party leading the current government, lagging at 23 percent.The anti-establishment 5-Star Movement had 32.5 percent.

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Another projection that looked only at how parties fared had the 5-Star Movement snagging 31.8 percent of the vote, far from the threshold it would need to form a government.

The anti-immigrant, Euro-skeptic League of Matteo Salvini had 15.9 percent of the vote, and its main center-right partner, former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, came in at 14.2 percent. The Democratic Party had just 19.6 percent.

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“Despite a stronger than expected performance, the M5S (Five-Stars) are still far away from securing an absolute majority,” wrote Wolfango Piccoli, a London-based analyst with Teneo Intelligence.

Image: Paolo Gentiloni Image: Paolo Gentiloni

Italian Premier Paolo Gentiloni casts his ballot in Rome on Sunday. Andrew Medichini / AP

Piccoli said Berlusconi and Salvini had forged a “gentleman’s agreement” stating that if their bloc secured a majority of the vote, whichever of their parties got more support could pick the next premier.

Berlusconi, who can’t hold public office now because of a tax fraud conviction, tapped European Parliament President Antonio Tajani as his choice for premier. Salvini wants the job for himself.

Like Piccoli, other analysts said the election appeared to have dealt Italy a hung Parliament — and weeks or even months of political negotiations to line up a governing coalition.

“Ungovernable Italy” was how daily newspaper La Stampa headlined its election summary.

Political analyst Lorenzo Codogno of London-based LC Macro Advisors said: “Financial markets are likely to take these figures negatively.” He said a hung Parliament would make it “extremely difficult for a narrow mainstream coalition to have the numbers to govern.”