2018-03-04 —

Initial projections say ex-PM Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right coalition is set to win the most seats in the lower house of parliament. It is expected to get between 225-265 seats, polls say - below the 316 needed for an absolute majority. Exit polls put the anti-establishment Five Star Movement in second place. It has made significant gains and could emerge as the largest single party, with about 30% of votes and 195-235 seats.


The centre-right bloc includes Mr Berlusconi's Forza Italia (Go Italy!) party, the eurosceptic League, and the far-right Brothers of Italy.


More than 600,000 migrants have made the treacherous journey from Libya across the Mediterranean to reach Italy since 2013.

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


Mr Berlusconi has called the presence of illegal migrants a "social time-bomb" and pledges mass deportations.

The campaign has seen violent clashes between far-right supporters and anti-fascist protesters.


Italy is the EU's fourth-largest economy and the potential gains by populist and far-right parties are a major concern in some European capitals and in Brussels.

Contenders have lined up to blame EU budget rules for hampering economic recovery. Five Star and the League had promised to hold a referendum to leave the euro but dropped that rhetoric.

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