The 5 Star Movement is set to be the largest party in Italy, following a highly competitive and divisive election.
Exit polls by Italian broadcaster RAI put the anti-establishment party on between 29-32% of the vote, followed by the largest party in the current coalition, the Democratic Party, with 20.5-23.5%. Forza Italia, led by former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, is neck and neck with populist Lega Nord for third place.
The exit poll suggests that no party or group will be able to form an overall majority in the Italian parliament. It is clear that tonight has been a good night for anti-establishment parties, with over 50% of Italians voting for such parties and with the 5 Star Movement performing above expectations.
The centre-right coalition, made up of Forza Italia, Lega Nord and the far-right Brothers of Italy, has fallen short of predictions with between 33-36%. Meanwhile, the centre-left coalition has suffered a major blow, mustering between 25-28% of the vote. The left wing Free and Equal group is predicted to be on 3-5%.
Should the exit poll be accurate, not always a guarantee with Italian elections, it is possible that an anti-EU and anti-establishment government could take office in Rome. However, as the new Italian electoral system is based on both proportional representation and first-past-the-post, and there are elections to both houses of the Italian government, it is still too early to say who will end up the victor.
International markets are reacting badly to the news with Italian futures plummeting.
More to follow…