Exit polls show win for rightists amid low turnout in Italian election

Rome, Sep 25 (EFE).- The rightist coalition made up of the Brothers of Italy (FdI), the League and Forza Italia (FI) appears to have won Sunday’s general elections in Italy, obtaining approximately 42.2 percent of the votes, according to an exit poll based on 10 percent of the votes counted, released at the close of the polling stations and reported by RAI public television.

If confirmed, this would potentially give Italy its first female prime minister (Giorgia Meloni) and its most rightist government since World War Two, not to mention giving the three-party rightist coalition control of both houses of Parliament.

The exit poll found that the FdI – headed by Meloni – received 24.6 percent of the votes, making it the biggest vote-getter, and it also experienced the most dramatic surge in voter approval compared with the 2018 vote in which it obtained just 4.3 percent.

According to the exit survey, the progressive coalition headed by the Democratic Party (PD) received 26.14 percent of the votes and the Five Stars Movement (M5S) came in third garnering 16.5 percent.

Meloni thus may become the first female prime minister in Italy’s history, given that her party and her ultrarightist coalition partners – Matteo Salvini’s League with 8.5 percent and Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia with 8 percent, the worst results in those groupings’ histories – would have captured the largest number of seats in Parliament.

The League received 17 percent of the votes in the 2018 election, and its 8.5 percent showing this time around constitutes a precipitous plunge in its popularity.

Even so, in the Chamber of Deputies, the rightist coalition is set to garner between 227-257 seats, while in the Senate it should hold 111-131 seats, both figures being closer to a two-thirds majority, which would be 267 and 134 seats, respectively.

Italy’s president selects the prime minister, however, so Meloni’s ascension to the premiership is not a foregone conclusion after Italy’s national unity government, which had headed the country for 18 months, collapsed in July, thus forcing the general election.

Italy’s interior ministry said that voter turnout was about 64.7 percent by the time the polls closed.

Another exit poll conducted by YouTrend for the private SkyTG24 television channel confirmed those results, showing a center-right victory in the Senate with 42.6 percent of the votes divided among the FdI (23.7 percent), the League (9.8 pct.) and the FI (7.9 pct.).

According to this poll, the center-left received 27.8 percent, while the M5S obtained 16.1 percent and Calenda and Renzi’s groups together received 7.4 percent.

At 7 pm, some 51.16 percent of registered Italian voters had cast their ballots in the nationwide elections, below the 58.4 percent who had done so by that time on election day in 2018, and fears were circulating late on election day that absenteeism would be significant by the time the polls closed, above all in the southern part of the country.

The latest voter surveys taken 15 days ago, the last day on which such surveys may be published, showed that about 65 percent of voters said they were intending to vote, and this figure appears to have held true on election day, while in 2018 the final participation level was about 73 percent, which up to that point had been the lowest in history.

According to preliminary analysis, turnout was down all over the country but above all in the south, with significant declines in the regions of Campania (-15.1 pct.), Molise (-13.9 pct.), Calabria (-13.0 pct.), Sardinia (-12.6 pct.) and Basilicata (-12.1 pct.).

Some analysts said that the dropoff in voting in the south, besides being an indicator of the public distancing itself from politics, could also have been affected by the bad weather and heavy rain that has been falling all day in regions like Campania.

Some 51 million Italians were eligible to vote on a long election day, with polls remaining open from 7 am to 11 pm, after which exit polling was to be made public, although the actual tally will take some hours.

Italians were called to the polls to select 600 lawmakers – 400 deputies and 200 senators – a significant reduction from the 945 current legislators and with 2.7 million young people being eligible to vote for the first time ever.

During the day, Meloni – who voted just minutes before the polls closed – had commented only on her social network accounts, posting a video that went viral in which she played on her surname, which is the plural for “melon” in Italian, by holding up two melons in front of her chest, smiling and winking one eye, saying “September 25, I’ve said it all.”

Voting earlier in the day were progressive Democratic Party (PD) leader Enrico Letta, the populist Five Star Movement (M5S) head Giuseppe Conte and the centrist Action Front’s Carlo Calenda, whose grouping is allied with Italia Viva, headed by Matteo Renzi.

Ultrarightist Liga chief Matteo Salvini voted in Milan, and Meloni’s other rightist coalition partner, Silvio Berlusconi, the veteran 85-year-old political leader of the conservative Forza Italia (FI), also voted in Milan with his 32-year-old girlfriend Marta Fascina.

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