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Early results show no clear winner in Italian election

Pier Luigi Bersani’s coalition wins the house, but Silvio Berlusconi takes enough Senate support to mean no clear winner.

Pier Luigi Bersani's coalition will have a majority in the lower house - but a majority in the Senate is far from assured.
Pier Luigi Bersani's coalition will have a majority in the lower house - but a majority in the Senate is far from assured.
Image: Gregorio Borgia/AP

Updated, 16:55

EARLY RESULTS in Itay’s general election have shown the centre-left coalition of Pier Luigi Bersani winning control of the Chamber of Deputies – but Silvio Berlusconi’s centre-right movement as the largest party in the Senate, meaning a hung parliament and no clear winner.

With 55 per cent of Senate votes counted, projections by national broadcaster RAI gave Berlusconi’s centre-right coalition 31.3 per cent of the vote – just ahead of Bersani’s ‘Common Good’ coalition at 30.1 per cent.

Outgoing premier Mario Monti, who set up a new ‘With Monti for Italy’ platform to run in the election, won only 9.4 per cent of the vote – with the ‘Five Star Movement’ of comedian Beppe Grillo taking a huge 24.6 per cent of the vote.

The success of Grillo’s apolitical group, which advocates leaving the euro and introducing a system of direct democracy, means an allegiance between Bersani and Monti will probably not be able to claim a majority of seats in the Senate.

Bersani’s coalition won a plurality of votes for the Chamber of Deputies, which under Italian electoral law guarantees 54 per cent of the seats there, but Berlusconi’s showing – which far exceeds his performance in ‘instant’ telephone polls carried out during polling – means his coalition will be the largest in the Senate.

The Bersani-Monti alliance which had been expected to command a majority in the Senate would now need Grillo’s support to command a majority – a deeply unlikely prospect. Similarly, a Berlusconi-Grillo partnership would still be in the minority in the Chamber of Deputies.

As the counting continues, it appears likely that a second election could be needed to find a stable government – with Mario Monti’s outgoing administration remaining in power on a caretaker basis in the meantime.

Italy’s electoral system is complicated by the fact that the ‘majority bonus’ which is allocated in the Chamber of Deputies based on national results, is allocated only based on regional results in the Senate.

This means that Berlusconi’s popularity in areas like Lombardy – which includes his home town of Milan – increases his representation in the Senate seats for those areas.

Turnout for yesterday’s first day of polling was relatively low – a possible a possible indication of voter apathy and of success for Grillo’s apolitical, direct democracy movement.

Definitive results in the complicated Senate election, giving a firm indication of whether Bersani and Monti have enough support to form a government, are not expected until late evening.

Explainer: Everything you need to know about the Italian election

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About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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