Italy is facing a hung parliament with the early count in Sunday’s general election suggesting no party has won a majority.
With ballots still being counted on Monday, a bloc of right-wing parties was projected to emerge with the most seats, but not enough to form a new government.
The projections by public broadcaster Rai showed the right-wing alliance winning 35.5 percent of the vote, including 15.8 percent for the Northern League and 14.5 percent for media mogul Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, with the Five Star Movement at 32.5 percent and the ruling centre-left coalition at 23.1 percent.
Al Jazeera’s Nadim Baba, reporting from Rome, said “if this election has proved anything it’s that many Italians want a clean break from the traditional ruling parties.
“But it’s far too early to say what kind of government will emerge. That could take many days if not weeks,” Baba said.
One possible outcome is expected to be an “anti-system” post-election pact between the Five Star Movement and the Northern League – a prospect that has spooked foreign investors and European capitals.
The other would be a minority Five Star government, which could prove highly unstable. A third option would be a temporary government and new elections.
Al Jazeera’s Laurence Lee, also reporting from Rome, said on Monday that the collapse of the centre-left politics across Europe was currently “a properly engrained trend”.
“The traditional centrist parties that Europe would look to for stable government have taken a real hit and it is really worrying,” he said. “The European Union has to at some point understand that it just isn’t working for people and people are looking for different solutions.”
Parliament will meet for the first time on March 23 and President Sergio Mattarella is not expected to open formal talks on forming a government until early April.
During two months of election campaigning, party leaders repeatedly ruled out any post-election tie-ups with their rivals. However, Italy has a long history of finding a way out of the apparently intractable political stalemate.