Rome Italy has elected its new parliament – and Europe is anxiously looking to Rome for fear of a shift to the right. More than 50 million citizens were invited to vote on Sunday. At noon, turnout was rather weak. First forecasts and then extrapolations were expected shortly after the polling stations closed at 11 p.m.
The far-right Fratelli d’Italia party, with its leader Giorgia Meloni, is likely to be the strongest force. The Roman woman and the right-wing bloc she led were clearly ahead in the polls, which were last published on September 9th. Meloni could become Italy’s first female prime minister.
Their alliance also includes the right-wing populist League of Matteo Salvini and ex-Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s conservative Forza Italia. After the resignation of the previous head of government Mario Draghi the country faces a hard jolt to the right.
While most party leaders voted in the morning, Meloni spontaneously postponed their vote until the evening. “Let’s make history together,” she tweeted that morning. Their allies also posted a number of election messages on social networks on Sunday, as they had done the day before. They ignored a requirement to refrain from such statements on the day before and on the day of the election. The Lega, for example, published some insulting tweets about their political opponents.
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According to the Interior Ministry, around 19.2 percent of Italians had cast their votes by 12 p.m., slightly fewer than in the 2018 election (19.4). At that time, the country had registered the lowest turnout in a parliamentary election in the post-war period at just under 73 percent. Experts predicted an even lower voter turnout of even less than 70 percent this time.
Parliamentary elections underway in Italy
After the fall of the Draghi government, many citizens are frustrated and do not feel represented by any party. The left and center parties fought each other in the election campaign instead of taking a united stand against the right-wing bloc.
Nevertheless, there were queues in front of some polling stations on Sunday, which caused some outrage. This was also due to the fact that one strip of the two completed ballot papers – one each for the House of Representatives and one for the Senate – had to be carefully torn off before they went into the ballot box. This additional procedure to combat voter fraud delayed the process. “I’ve never seen a snake like that,” said Forza Italia boss Berlusconi.
In Brussels and other European capitals, many worry about a government led by the Fratelli and Meloni. The “Brothers of Italy” are successors to a party founded by fascists. Also, Meloni never fully condemned fascism. In addition, the party leader repeatedly criticizes the EU and rejects progressive rights such as those on adoption for homosexual partners.