Italian right, led by Meloni, wins election, exit polls show

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  • The right-wing bloc is preparing to obtain a majority in both chambers at the exit of the polls
  • Meloni would be the country’s first female prime minister
  • An early vote follows the fall of the Draghi government
  • Record low turnout casts shadow over result

ROME, Sept 25 (Reuters) – A right-wing alliance led by Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party was on track to win a clear majority in the next parliament, giving the country its most right-wing government since World War II. world.

Meloni, as leader of the largest party in the coalition, was also likely to become Italy’s first female prime minister.

Meloni, 45, downplays his party’s post-fascist roots and describes it as a traditional conservative group. She pledged to support Western policy on Ukraine and not take undue risks with the euro zone’s third-largest economy.

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However, the outcome is likely to ring alarm bells in European capitals and financial markets, given the desire to preserve unity against Russia and concerns over Italy’s debt mountain.

An exit poll from public broadcaster RAI said the conservative party bloc, which also includes Matteo Salvini’s League and Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party, won between 41% and 45%, enough to secure control of the two houses of parliament.

“The center-right is clearly in the lead in both the lower house and the Senate! It’s going to be a long night, but even now I want to say thank you,” Salvini tweeted.

Italian electoral law favors groups that manage to create pre-election pacts, giving them an outsized number of seats compared to their vote tally.

RAI said the right-wing alliance would win between 227 and 257 of the 400 seats in the lower house of parliament and 111-131 of the 200 seats in the Senate.

Full results are expected Monday morning.

A RECORD LOW PARTICIPATION

The result caps a remarkable rise for Meloni, whose party won just 4% of the vote in the last national elections in 2018, but this time around was set to become Italy’s biggest group with about 22-26%.

But it was not a resounding endorsement, with provisional data showing a turnout of just 64.1% compared to 74% four years ago – a record number in a country that has historically seen a high level of voter turnout. .

Although severe storms in the south appear to have deterred many people from voting there, turnout fell in some of the northern and central cities, where the weather was calmer.

Italy has a history of political instability and the next prime minister will lead the country’s 68th government since 1946 and face a host of issues including soaring energy costs and growing economic headwinds.

The initial market reaction is likely to be subdued as opinion polls had predicted the outcome accurately.

“I don’t expect a big impact although it’s not necessarily the case that Italian assets will do particularly well tomorrow (Monday) given how the market is starting to treat Europe and the countries to worrying public finances and exposed to the crisis and Ukraine,” said Giuseppe Sersale, fund manager and strategist at Anthilia in Milan.

Italy’s first autumn national elections in more than a century were sparked by infighting between parties that brought down Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s sweeping government of national unity in July.

The new streamlined parliament will not meet until October 13, when the head of state will summon party leaders and decide on the form of the new government.

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Additional reporting by Gavin Jones, Rodolfo Fabbri and Giselda Vagnoni in Rome, and Danilo Masoni in Milan Editing by Keith Weir

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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