Italy votes in historic elections

(Update 1: adds details)

Rome, Sep 25 (EFE).- Italians headed to polls on Sunday to vote in decisive elections that could deliver the most far-right government since WWII with the victory Giorgia Meloni, who would become the first woman to hold the country’s top post.

About 51 million Italians are eligible to vote, including 2.7 million first time voters, until polling closes at 11pm, following which the results are expected to be announced.

According to pre-poll surveys, Meloni, leader of the Brothers of Italy populist party, could become the country’s first female prime minister, and form the most right-wing government since Benito Mussolini’s fascist rule was overthrown at the end of the war.

Meloni’s coalition, which includes Matteo Salvini’s far-right League and Silvio Berlusconi’s center-right Forza Italia parties, is expected to win a landslide victory, enjoying a 20 points advantage over Enrico Letta’s central-left Democratic Party and its allies.

As voting was underway, the candidates urged Italians to cast their ballots in elections that indicate some 40% of voters are undecided or likely to abstain.

Salvini and Berlusconi’s links with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the tug-of-war between Meloni and her European partners and the fear that a large majority could change the Constitution without consensus have prompted confusion and indecisiveness among Italians.

But according to the polls, if these 40% of people vote, the outcome of the elections could be quite different.

“Today you can help write history. We can write history together,” Meloni, who said she would cast her ballot in a polling station in the capital city of Rome later in the evening, posted on social media.

“The more people vote, the more strength a new Parliament and a new government will have to intervene in emergencies,” Salvini said as he casted his ballot in a polling station in the northern city of Milan, breaking the rule of electoral silence in which it is prohibited to try and convince people to vote for a certain candidate on election day.

Social democratic Letta, who cast his ballot in a polling station in the working class neighborhood of Testaccio in Rome, discreetly posed for the media without making a comment.

Sunday’s elections will serve to elect 600 parliamentarians – 400 deputies and 200 senators -, a significant cut from the current 945 – 630 deputies and 315 senators – following a referendum reform.

While Italian governments in recent years have seen complex coalitions between opposing parties that almost never managed to secure a majority, the right-bloc coalition have presented a united front, with Meloni as its undisputed leader. EFE


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