At a crucial juncture for Europe, when the crisis in Ukraine is driving up energy bills and putting the West’s determination to stand together against Russian aggression to the test, Italy went to the polls on Sunday in an election that might shift the country’s politics “sharply towards the right”, reported news agency AP.
The polls opened at seven in the morning (0500GMT). Projections based on partial results were likely to be released early Monday morning reported the news agency adding that the counting of paper votes was anticipated to begin shortly after they close at 11 p.m. (2100 GMT).
Giorgia Meloni, leader of far-right Brothers of Italy party with neo-fascist roots, was leading in popularity in opinion polls two weeks before the voting— publication of opinion polls were banned in the country during the 15 days leading up to the polls— suggesting that Italians were about to elect their first far-right administration since World War II. Former Prime Minister Enrico Letta and his center-left Democratic Party followed closely after.
Meloni is a member of a right-wing coalition that includes anti-migrant League leader Matteo Salvini and three-time premier Silvio Berlusconi, who is in charge of the Forza Italia party he founded thirty years ago. Italian electoral legislation is complicated rewarding campiagn coalitions, which disadvantages the Democrats since they were unable to form a wide coalition with centrists and populists who lean left.
ALSO READ: ‘No Coup’, ‘Just Rumours’: What Experts Say About Social Media Buzz On Xi Jinping ‘House Arrest’ In China
Meloni would be Italy’s first female premier if she were to win the position. But putting together a strong, dominant alliance may take many days.
There were about 51 million eligible Italian voters. However, pollsters anticipated that turnout may lower than the record-breaking low of 73% in the 2018 general election, stated the AP report.
They claim that despite Europe’s numerous challenges, many people are disenchanted with politics. Since the previous election Italy has had three coalition administrations, each of which was led by someone who hadn’t run for the office.
Following the fall of Mario Draghi’s national unity government in late July, elections were held six months ahead of schedule. Sergio Mattarella, the President of Italy, concluded that the only option was for people to elect a new Parliament.
ALSO READ: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov Backs India’s Bid For Permanent Seat On UN Security Council
Draghi, a former chief of the European Central Bank, scored quite well in opinion polls. However, the coalition’s three populist parties abstained from a vote on energy relief measure. Salvini, Berlusconi, and Giuseppe Conte, the leader of the 5-Star Movement and the largest party in the outgoing Parliament, observed Meloni’s popularity rising as theirs dipped.
By refusing to join Draghi’s unity government or Conte’s two coalitions that took power following the 2018 election, Meloni maintained her Brothers of Italy in the opposition.
With her unwavering support for Ukraine, which included providing weaponry so that Kyiv could defend itself against Russia, she further set herself apart from Salvini and Berlusconi. Her nationalist party supports national independence.
Salvini and Berlusconi had showered praise for Russian President Vladimir Putin prior to Russia’s incursion. Salvini condemned Russian atrocities in Ukraine during the last days of the election campaign.
ALSO READ: Ankita Bhandari Murder: Family Refuses To Conduct Last Rites, Protestors Block Badrinath-Rishikesh Highway — Updates
Many Italian factories are considering making cuts; some have already decreased output; and other companies may go out of business as a result of skyrocketing gas and power costs that are now 10 times higher than they were a year ago.
Regardless of their political leanings, the major contenders agreed that a national price ceiling on energy costs, or in the absence of that, an EU-wide one, was necessary right away.
Draghi has already been urging the EU leaders in Brussels for the same solution for months now. Draghi is still acting as caretaker until a new government is sworn in.