Italy’s election outcome uncertain as votes split three ways

iStock/Thinkstock(ROME, Italy) — Italians woke up Monday morning to the possibility of a dramatically different government after Sunday’s general elections.

With votes still being counted, the country is facing a possible political gridlock as votes were split three ways between the surging populist, anti-establishment Five Star Movement, the anti-migrant center-right coalition and the waning left-wing Democratic Party. Final results are not expected until late today.

Some voters interviewed on Italian media Monday morning said the win for the 5-star movement, now the largest single party in Italy, was a great “revolution” that signaled growing frustration and angry dismay with the ruling Democratic Party; others looked sunk in gloom and spoke of Italy’s continued “instability” and “ungovernability.”

Because no single party or coalition appears to have won enough support to form a government, Italians may have to endure weeks of political haggling to determine the leader of the next government and who will be in it.

There is already a great deal of speculation as to which parties could form a majority. But with today’s win, the Five Star Movement will have a prominent voice in the shape of any future government. The party’s leader, Luigi Di Maio, insists that any politician chosen to hold future posts in power will have to operate on their “transparent” terms.

Sundays vote has also upturned the balance of power within the center-right coalition. The anti-migrant Euro-skeptic League party, led by Matteo Salvini, won more votes than its coalition ally, the more moderate Forza Italia center-right party, led by the 81-year-old Berlusconi.

Salvini reiterated today that, per a pre-election pact, the League party can now call the shots within the coalition. He also vehemently said “no” to the party joining any “minestrone” grand-coalition government — especially one led by the Five Star Movement. Berlusconi has yet to comment on the results.

The left-wing Democratic Party, which has been ruling the country with the mild-mannered Paolo Gentiloni as latest leader, suffered a brutal defeat and sunk to a new low. The blame is being handed to party secretary, Matteo Renzi, who was unable to stop the party from splintering into different parties ahead of the vote.

With monday’s results, the left-wing’s historic political stronghold in areas known as the “red belt” in the center and north of the country has vanished; the country now seemingly divided roughly in half, with the center-right coalition winning in the north of the county and the Five Star Movement taking strong control of the center and south of the country.

It is widely predicted that any possible government solution may take weeks and many surprise political options are possible along the way.

The European Union and financial markets are already concerned. Should various attempts to form a government fail, a new election may have to be called, which would further prolong the country’s instability.

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