Populist surge leaves Italy in limbo

Populist surge leaves Italy in limbo

Italy is now governed by a centre-left coalition led by the Democratic Party, but this was lagging in the polls with 24.5% to 27.5% of the vote.

With no faction winning a clear majority, the results early Monday confirm that negotiations to form a government that can win a confidence vote in Parliament will likely be long and fraught.

According to the Termometro Politico poll, based on the interview of 4,500 people, between February 3 and 10, M5S received 26.3 percent of the vote, and Forza Italia had 15.9 percent of the vote in the poll, signaling that the center-right bloc could win a majority if the coalition gets the predicted 37.5 percent.

By contrast, the right dominated in the wealthier north, with support for the centre-left largely concentrated into a narrow stretch of central Italy, leaving the country more politically divided than at any time in recent history.

In an upset, the results showed the populist, right-wing and anti-immigrant League party led by Matteo Salvini surpassed the longtime anchor of the centre-right, the Forza Italia party of ex-Premier Silvio Berlusconi.

The bloc includes his Forza Italia (Go Italy) party, the virulent anti-migrant League and the fascist Brothers of Italy.

Meanwhile, in Italy, the anti-establishment Five Star Movement and the far-right euro-sceptic League party were the big winners of the Italian election, which laid bare widespread anger over immigration and frustration with mainstream politics.

A nightmare scenario for the European Union would be a combination of the 5-Star Movement and the League, which together would command a majority of seats in Parliament.

"The tremor is going to continue. there's really a populist national revolt (against the EU), it's building steam", Mr Bannon, who was in Rome for the election, said.

"The markets have nothing to fear", League leader Matteo Salvini told reporters in Milan, hours after the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement also claimed the right to govern as the biggest single party.

Its sharp-suited 31-year-old leader Luigi di Maio said he "felt the responsibility to form a government for Italy" after clinching 32 percent of the vote.

The 5-Stars had a remarkably strong showing in the south, which has always been a stronghold of the centre-right and Forza Italia.




"The vote has radically transformed Italy's political landscape and its repercussions will be long-lasting", Piccoli, the co-founder of the Teneo Intelligence consultancy, said.

The role reversal marks a bitter personal defeat for the billionaire media magnate and his party, which took more moderate positions on the euro and immigration while the League campaigned on a fiercely anti-migrant ticket.

Russia's RT headlined with the "boom in euroskeptic anti-establishment parties".

Weighing in on Twitter, France's far-right leaderMarine Le Pen hailed the League's gains as "spectacular".

Ewout van Schaick, head of multi-asset at NN Investment Partners, said the emergence of a weaker government would hinder the country's ability to pass the necessary reforms required for growth.

The Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry says it is "of great importance for the German economy whether Italy can form a stable government and continue following the path of reform it has set out on".

The poll also showed the PD party had around 21.3 percent of the vote.

The uncertainty swirling around Italy's coalition options puts President Sergio Mattarella at the center of the web of public and private consultations that will descend over the Eternal City in the coming weeks and are likely to spawn a flurry of statements but little clarity.

However, Salvini's latest declaration appears to have ruled out that possibility.

Reuters reports, "The European Union has insisted that Italy take charge of the newcomers, letting hardly any of them move to other EU states".

Populist parties have been on the rise across Europe since the 2008 financial crisis.

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