Anti-establishment Eurosceptics surge in Italian election, centrist parties shrink – exit polls

Anti-establishment Eurosceptics surge in Italian election, centrist parties shrink – exit polls:

The Five-Star Movement has come out as the top individual party in Italy’s election, while the anti-immigration Lega also outperformed expectations, exit polls suggest. Pro-EU centrists suffered dramatic losses on Sunday.

The RAI exit poll predicted 30.5 percent for the Eurosceptic, anti-corruption Five Star Movement, and pegged Lega on a par with its coalition partner, the Silvio Berlusconi-led Forza Italia, at 14.5 percent. The ruling socialist Democratic Party was predicted to gain 22 percent of the vote.

Italian exit polls during the last parliamentary election in 2013 were out by as much as five percent from the final results, and observers urged caution at least until reliable projections emerge in several hours. Official results are expected on Monday.

The final turnout is predicted to be the lowest in Italy’s post-WWII history.

With no parties large enough to form a majority in the Senate and Chamber of Deputies, the country’s two equally-powerful legislative assemblies, runners will likely enter a permanent ruling coalition. The Five-Star Movement, which caps a meteoric rise since its founding in 2009 by the comedian Beppe Grillo, has vowed that it will not join others in a coalition government.

“If the projections stand, this is a triumph for our party,” Alessandro Di Battista, one of Five-Star Movement’s most prominent politicians, told the gathered media. “For the first time everyone will have to come and talk to us. This is the best guarantee of transparency and honesty in Italian politics.”

While the results mark a return to the national political scene of former prime minister Berlusconi, who is barred from taking office until next year after a tax fraud conviction, the overarching narrative is the decline of the main center-right and center-left parties. Berlusconi’s previous party attained 21 percent in the 2013 vote, while the Democratic Party captured 25 percent of the ballots.

Italy’s new star politician is undoubtedly 31-year-old Five-Star Movement leader Luigi Di Maio, a college dropout who was waiting tables a decade ago, but the outcome is also a coup for Lega leader Matteo Salvini, who has turned the former Lega Nord from a radical regional movement to a nationwide force. Their vote will likely beat the party’s previous high watermark of 10.8 percent during the 1996 election.

Salvini posted a photo of himself smiling with the caption “THANK YOU!” on his Twitter account as the results rolled in.

H/t reader Squodgy:

“Anti-establishment……….until they are either bought or threatened…..or both!”

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