Italy election: Five Star Movement vows to not form coalition

Marlene Weaver
March 5, 2018

Italians started voting on Sunday in the country's general elections to elect a new parliament after a divisive campaign dominated by concerns over immigration and the economy.

Correspondents say it is hard to say who will come out on top in an unpredictable contest.

A 2013 conviction for tax fraud means he can not hold public office and he has put forward Antonio Tajani, the president of the European Parliament, as his candidate for prime minister.

Renzi's rivals include the populist Five-Star Movement, as well as a coalition of right-wing parties, including the far-right League party, which has been backed by neo-fascists.

Opinion polls were banned in the last two weeks of the campaign but surveys before that suggested Mr Berlusconi's alliance was in front but would not win a majority.

What are the key issues?

Tajani's moderate profile is aimed at allaying fears in Europe about his populist allies, notably the League, whose leader Matteo Salvini has promised to deport the 600,000 boat migrants who have arrived in Italy over the past four years.

Meanwhile, the huge number of immigrant arrivals has upset many Italians - with politicians, including from the mainstream, toughening their rhetoric as a result.

The election has been bad news for hundreds of thousands of migrants in Italy, as the far-right parties have promised increasingly tough measures to deal with the crisis, including mass deportations.

In 2016, some 18 million people were at risk of poverty, and unemployment is at 11%.

Why is this election important?

Contenders have lined up to blame European Union budget rules for hampering economic recovery.

La Lega, previously known as the Northern League, openly embraces an "Italians first" ideology while Five Star has focused on corruption, but their ascent in recent years from fringe parties to significant players in Italian politics has underscored the depth of anger within the electorate.

Polls have opened in Italy, but it could be some time before the country's leadership is decided.

Media captionBerlusconi's handshake advice for BBC reporter Who's running?

On the left, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi's Democratic Party, the leader of the ruling coalition, could see a drop in support due to Italy's sluggish economy, with high unemployment and stagnant economic growth.

Further on the left is the smaller Free and Equal (LeU) party led by Senate Speaker Pietro Grasso and made up of defectors from the Democratic Party.

When will we know the result?

Voting will be held from 07:00 to 23:00 (0600-2200 GMT) on Sunday, with exit polls to follow when polls close.

Results are expected by early Monday morning.

The party is now in a centre-right coalition with Forza Italia, Silvio Berlusconi's centre-Right party, Brothers of Italy and a small conservative party called Noi Con Italia.

Other reports by Insurance News

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