Far-right leader Giorgia Meloni has won Italy’s election, according to exit polls, and is on course to become the country’s first female prime minister.
If they are confirmed, Ms Meloni will aim to form Italy’s most right-wing government since World War Two.
A Meloni-led Italy will alarm much of Europe with Russia at war in Ukraine.
She is predicted to win between 22-26% of the vote, says a Rai exit poll, ahead of her closest rival Enrico Letta from the centre left.
Several exit polls just published given her right-wing alliance a commanding lead, with 41-45% of the vote. The Rai poll also suggests the three parties would have a commanding hold on both elected houses of parliament.
The centre left was well behind with 25.5%-29.5%. They failed to form a viable challenge with other parties, after Italy’s 18-month national unity government collapsed in July, and party figures were downbeat even before the vote. The Five Star Movement under Giuseppe Conte is on course for third place but despite having several centre-left policies does not see eye to eye with Enrico Letta.
Turnout was a dramatically low 63.82% by the time polls closed, said Italy’s interior ministry, almost 10 points down on 2018. Voting levels were especially poor in southern regions including Sicily.