Italy’s national election produced no outright winner on Sunday, according to exit polls that pointed to possible political gridlock, with voters backing anti-establishment and far-right parties in record numbers.
A rightist alliance emerged with the biggest bloc of votes, ahead of the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, the largest single party, polls showed. The ruling centre-left coalition came third, hurt by anger over poverty and mass immigration.
Full results are not expected for several hours, and Italian exit polls have previously given misleading initial readings.
Heavily indebted Italy is the third largest economy in the euro zone and prolonged political stalemate could make it the focal point of market concern now that the threat of instability in Germany has receded thanks to the revival on Sunday of a grand coalition under Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The euro edged marginally higher in Asia early on Monday, with investors awaiting clearer results from Italy.
A poll for RAI state television said a bloc of centre-right and far-right parties would win 33-36 percent of the vote, short of the 40 percent analysts have said is the minimum needed to secure a majority under Italy’s new electoral law.
Within the alliance, former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia (Go Italy!) was seen winning 12.5-15.5 percent, the same as the League, which has allied itself to anti-immigration, anti-Islam parties across Europe.
The 5-Star, led by 31-year-old Luigi Di Maio, was forecast to take 29.0-32.5 percent, which would be a remarkable result for a group that was only formed in 2009. It has fed off public fury over entrenched corruption and economic hardship.
“We will be a pillar of the legislature,” said a smiling Alfonso Bonafede, a close ally of Di Maio, told La7.
A centre-left alliance dominated by former prime minister Matteo Renzi’s ruling Democratic Party (PD) was projected to win 25-28 percent, but pollsters said the PD itself might end up only the fourth-largest group in the lower house of parliament.