No single party or coalition has secured enough seats in the Italian parliamentary elections to form a government on their own, local media cited election officials as saying after the completion of counting of all domestic votes.
Final results are unlikely to be announced before Tuesday afternoon. Nevertheless, predictions and exit poll results suggest that Italy may be heading towards a political deadlock, with the possibility of a hung Parliament.
Media reports indicated that the center-left Democratic Party led by Pier Luigi Bersani was slightly ahead in the Lower House, while the center-right coalition led by former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was leading in the Senate.
With the votes cast outside Italy to be counted, Bersani's center-left bloc reportedly secured 29.5 percent of the vote for the Lower House (Chamber of Deputies), only slightly ahead of the 29.18 percent received by the Berlusconi bloc, which includes the federalist Northern League.
Nevertheless, Berlusconi's coalition was leading Bersani's center-left bloc by two percentage points in the Senate, where majority is decided on a regional basis. Projections indicate that the billionaire media mogul's coalition is heading for victory in three of the four big regions - Lombardy in the north, Campania in the center, and Sicily in the south.
The two phase elections held on Sunday and Monday were marked by the possible emergence of the 5 Star Movement led by comedian Beppe Grillo as the third largest party in the Parliament. The movement, which began only three years ago, is said to have secured at least 25.5 percent of the vote. Analysts credit the movement's outstanding performance on its firm stand against austerity measures advocated by the European Union.
Notably, the center bloc led by former Prime Minister Mario Monti has been predicted to get only about ten percent of the vote, mainly due to public anger prompted by the painful austerity measures implemented by his interim technocrat government during its brief stay in power.
Monti was appointed as Prime Minister in November 2011 after Berlusconi resigned from the post amid concerns that Italy would be the next Eurozone country to slip into a debt crisis after Greece, Ireland and Portugal. Monti resigned in December after Berlusconi's conservative PDL party withdrew support for his government, paving the way for fresh elections.
While in power, Monti's government had imposed several tough austerity measures for reviving the country's sagging economy and addressing its massive debts. Several European leaders have been appreciative of the way in which Monti, a reputed economist, handled Italy's economic crisis, and some of them had urged him to seek a second term in office to advance his policies aimed at reviving the country's economy.
by RTT Staff Writer
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