Italian election ends in stalemate

Early results in the Italian election point to a highly unstable outcome.

Outgoing Prime Minister Mario Monti, whose austerity program is credited with bringing some calm to the eurozone, received a drubbing in the polls. His party received just 9.2% of the Senate vote, according to Italian media reports.

Leading in the upper house is the centre-left bloc, a coalition known as the Democratic Party, with 31.6% of the vote. It’s less than the party needs to govern in its own right. The party coming second is that led by former prime minister and media tycoon Silvio Berlusconi. He gained 29.4% of the vote – a far higher figure than expected.  The Five Star Movement, which is led by comedian Beppe Grillo, is third with 24.9%.

Italy’s election rules decree that the party that wins a majority of the electoral vote should have a majority of seats in the lower house. The beneficiary of this is expected to be the Democratic Party.

The suspected result is seen as highly unstable. Many fear a re-election within the next six months, should no stable ruling coalition emerge.

The election has shaken global markets. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped nearly 300 points – its worst day in nearly four months – while the ASX fell sharply in early trading.

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