Italian Election’s Going to Be Messy, Say Pollsters

The final opinion polls before the Italian election suggest it will be a struggle for any of the main parties to form a government.

Friday marks the last day in which opinion polls can be published ahead of the March 4 ballot, according to Italian law. All the polls have similar findings — one of the most unpredictable elections in decades likely ending with a hung parliament. That in turn could lead to a larghe intese — a grand coalition — even though all the main parties have ruled out such an arrangement during a heated campaign.

All the polls show the anti-establishment 5Star Movement led by Luigi Di Maio becoming the single largest party, winning between 27 and 29 percent of the vote. That wouldn’t be enough for the 5Stars to rule on their own, however, and they have rejected the idea of striking a deal with the other mainstream parties.

The center-right coalition led by Silvio Berlusconi has better chances of securing a working majority, pollsters say. The group — Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, plus the Northern League of Matteo Salvini and the right-wing Brothers of Italy — is predicted to get between 35 and 38 percent of the vote, which could be enough for a razor-thin majority.

Under new electoral rules, 63 percent of seats are assigned using a proportional voting system, with the remaining 37 percent of the parliament to be elected locally under a first-past-the-post system. It’s in the latter where the election could be decided, especially seats…

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