The polls have closed in Italy where voters are expected to elect the far-right leader of a party with neo-fascist roots to be the country’s first female prime minister.
Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party won just over 4% in the 2018 election but recent polls indicate the party could take as much as 25% of the vote.
Sunday’s election could move the country’s politics sharply to the right at a critical time on the European continent, as countries struggle with energy prices and the war in Ukraine continues.
If she takes power, Ms Meloni would be both Italy’s first female prime minister and the first far-right politician to become head of government in a major eurozone economy.
The election came six months early after Mario Draghi’s pandemic unity government collapsed in late July.
Read more:Who is Giorgia Meloni?
Ms Meloni is part of a right-wing alliance with anti-migrant League leader Matteo Salvini and Silvio Berlusconi, the three-time premier who heads the Forza Italia party he created three decades ago.
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It could be a while until it is known officially who the next prime minister is, with the process to form a coalition expected to last until at least mid-October.
Early voters in Rome expressed concerns about Italian politics as a whole.
“I hope we’ll see honest people, and this is very difficult nowadays,” Adriana Gherdo said at a polling station in the city.
The election in the eurozone’s third-biggest economy will be closely watched in Europe, given Ms Meloni’s criticism of “Brussels bureaucrats” and her ties to other right-wing leaders.
She recently defended Hungary’s Viktor Orban after the European Commission recommended suspending billions of euros in funding to Hungary over concerns about democratic backsliding and the possible mismanagement of EU money.
Source : Sky News