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ITALIAN ELECTIONS

Italy announces final election results as right-wing wins clear majority

Giorgia Meloni's far-right Brothers of Italy party won 26 percent of the vote in Sunday's elections and her right-wing coalition secured a clear majority in parliament, final results showed on Tuesday.

Italy announces final election results as right-wing wins clear majority
Brothers of Italy leader Giorgia Meloni claimed victory on Monday after her party took the largest share of the vote in Italy's elections. Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP

FdI ally Matteo Salvini, leader of the anti-immigration League party, won 8.8 percent in the lower house Chamber of Deputies, according to interior ministry figures, while former premier Silvio Berlusconi’s right-wing Forza Italia party secured 8.1 percent in the Chamber.

Together with a smaller party representing less than one percent of the vote, their right-wing coalition secured 43.8 percent of votes in the lower house of parliament.

The League and Forza Italia performed worse than expected, after taking 17 and 14 percent of the vote respectively in 2018.

With additional votes from Italians abroad and in two independent regions, the coalition ends up with a total of 237 seats in the 400-seat Chamber and 115 seats in the 200-seat upper house Senate – a clear majority, but not the two-thirds ‘super majority’ it had been hoping for.

Italy had been waiting for a final result on Monday, but counting took longer than expected – despite the lowest general election turnout in Italian history.

All Italian regions had completed their ballot count on Tuesday morning except Sicily, where local media ran headlines about a scrutinio lumaca, or ‘snail count’.

EXPLAINED: What will a far-right government mean for Italy?

Voter turnout fell to a low of around 64 percent, about nine points lower than the last elections in 2018, and was particularly low in the south of the country.

Around one in four of those who voted in Sunday’s election backed Meloni’s Brothers of Italy (Fratelli d’Italia or FDI) party, which has post-fascist roots.

Meloni had already claimed victory on Monday morning, with the result already clear long before it became official. Her party’s easy victory was just as predicted by exit polls on Sunday night – and in line with that predicted by opinion polls throughout the election campaign.

As the leader of the biggest party within the winning coalition, Meloni is now set to become Italy’s first female prime minister – although the process of forming a new government is expected to take weeks.

“Her challenge will be to turn this electoral success into a governing leadership… that can last,” Lorenzo De Sio, head of Italian electoral studies centre CISE, told AFP.

READ ALSO: Meloni, Salvini, Berlusconi: The key figures in Italy’s likely new government

Analysts say Meloni drew much of her recent surge in support from Italy’s other right-wing parties, particularly the League, as well as from right-leaning supporters of the populist Five Star Movement.

Meloni’s “dissatisfied and essentially defeated allies” would likely be a “problem” in government, the Corriere della Sera newspaper said.

Front pages of Italian newspapers with photos of leader of Italian far-right party "Fratelli d'Italia" (Brothers of Italy) Giorgia Meloni on September 26, 2022, a day after her party came top in general elections.

Front pages of Italian newspapers on Monday declare Meloni’s victory. Photo by Vincenzo PINTO / AFP.

A glum Salvini, who has clashed with Meloni on a range of policies, not least her stance on Russia and the war in Ukraine, said winning just nine percent had been a blow.

It was “not a number I wanted or worked for”, he said.

The League may now have to battle to ensure its priorities are not sidelined in Meloni’s government programme, analysts said.

READ ALSO: Doubts rise over ‘loose cannon’ Salvini after Italy’s election

And while ex-interior minister Salvini has repeatedly said he wants his former job back, it is looking increasingly unlikely to happen.

“It won’t be an easy relationship. It’s likely that (Salvini) will be given a more marginal role in the government than he wants,” Sofia Ventura, political sciences professor at Bologna University, told the foreign press association in Rome.

Meanwhile, 85-year-old former prime minister Berlusconi said he sees himself as a “father figure” within the coalition and is angling for a “director” position in Meloni’s government.

Italian politics is notoriously unstable, with nearly 70 governments since 1946, each lasting around 18 months on average.

There have been three different governments in Italy since the last election in 2018.

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POLITICS

Italy’s government to continue sending weapons to Ukraine in 2023

Italy's new government issued a decree on Thursday to continue sending weapons to Ukraine through 2023, continuing the previous administration's policy of support to Kyiv.

Italy's government to continue sending weapons to Ukraine in 2023

The decree extends to December 31, 2023 an existing authorisation for “the transfer of military means, materials and equipment to the government authorities of Ukraine,” according to a government statement.

Since taking office in October, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has repeatedly voiced her support for Kyiv while underlying the importance of the Atlantic alliance.

In her first speech to parliament, the leader of the Brothers of Italy party pledged to “continue to be a reliable partner of NATO in supporting Ukraine.”

Her predecessor Mario Draghi was a staunch supporter of Kyiv, but the issue of sending arms to Ukraine split the biggest party in parliament during his coalition government, the Five Star Movement.

That friction led to the early elections that brought Meloni to power.

Parliament now has 60 days to vote the decree into law.

READ ALSO: Outcry in Italy after Berlusconi defends Putin’s invasion of Ukraine

Despite Meloni’s efforts to reassure her Western allies of Italy’s support for the EU’s and NATO’s Ukraine strategy, including sanctions on Russia, the close ties to Russia of her two coalition partners have come under scrutiny.

Both Matteo Salvini of the League party and former premier Silvio Berlusconi, who leads Forza Italia, have long enjoyed warm relations with Russia.

In October, an audio tape of Berlusconi was leaked to the media in which the former premier described how he had received a birthday present of vodka from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In the tape, he also expressed concerns about sending weapons and cash to Kyiv and appeared to blame the war on Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky.

Berlusconi later issued a statement saying his personal position on Ukraine “does not deviate” from that of Italy and the EU.

Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, Salvini, too, has come under fire for his relations with Moscow, including a report that he dined with Russia’s ambassador to Rome just days after that country’s invasion of Ukraine.

Salvini, who has criticised EU sanctions as ineffective, has long admired Putin, even wearing T-shirts emblazoned with the Russian leader’s face.

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