Strong results for anti-establishment in Italy

4 March 2018, 23:08

These are very early days and it must be remembered that Italian exit polls are extremely unreliable.

However, it's clear that the so-called establishment of pro-EU, pro-Euro parties have had a bloody nose.

The anti-EU, anti-immigration League Party appears to have done well, as has the anti-establishment Five-Star Movement.

The likely scenario is a hung parliament.

But given that the coalitions are loose and informal, it is possible that smaller parties could club together or switch allegiances in order to muster a majority.

A nightmare for the European Union and the establishment would be a coalition between the League and the Five-Star Movement.

But the arithmetic suggests that they don't have the numbers.

With the far right Brothers of Italy, they could have the numbers.

The right wing bloc may well get enough seats to form a government: centre-right - Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia, further to the right - Matteo Salvini's League, and further right still - the Brothers of Italy.

The question then is whether Mr Berlusconi's party or Mr Salvini's got more votes. If Mr Salvini got more, he would be the candidate for Prime Minister. That would a huge headache for the EU.

Again though, these are early days with horse trading likely to last weeks.

:: What you need to know about Italy's election

A hugely complicated voting system - with a mixture of first-past-the-post and proportional representation - may mean that voters were confused at the ballot box.

This could lead to a high number of annulled ballots.

Another complication in the voting system means that candidates can stand in more than one seat.

They can then pick the seat they take up.

The other seats that are won then go to the runner-up.

This can alter the result at a later date.

Overall, it appears to be a good night for the anti-establishment and right-wing parties and a poor night for the incumbent centre left parties in an election dominated by the economy and immigration.

Italy is the fourth largest economy in the EU.

But while other nations are recovering well, it is performing the worst in the Eurozone where it holds 20% of the bloc's total debt.

The caveat again though: these are not results but polls and in a country where polling often turns out to be wide of the mark.

Plus, with blocs rather than single powerful parties, predictions are even harder.