Italy elections: exit polls point to win for far-right Giorgia Meloni

Her Brothers of Italy party, in alliance with two right-wing parties, appear on course to win up to 45% of the vote

Giorgia Meloni, leader of the Brothers of Italy, arrives to cast her vote for the Italian general election at a polling station in Rome. Getty
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Italy appears on course to elect its first far-right leader since the Second World War after voting closed in national elections.

Giorgia Meloni and her electoral alliance hold a big lead, according to exit polls released by state TV as the count began, and opposition leaders have started to concede.

State broadcaster RAI said Ms Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party, in alliance with the League and Forza Italia parties, appeared on course to win up to 45 per cent of the vote in both chambers of parliament.

Projections based on one-fifth of votes counted gave Ms Meloni's party 25 per cent of the vote.

The centre-left Democratic Party (PD) had 19 per cent of the vote. The Five-Star Movement was on course for third place, with Matteo Salvini's League and Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia fourth and fifth.

Forming a coalition government can take weeks and assuming Ms Meloni is successful, she would be Italy’s first female prime minister. She promoted herself as a fresh face after keeping her party out of Mario Draghi’s unity government.

"If we are called upon to govern this nation, we will do so for all Italians, with the aim of uniting the people, of exalting what unites them rather than what divides them," Ms Meloni, 45, said. "We will not betray your trust."

Her platform includes populist themes of immigration, patriotism and traditional family values, but her pro-Ukraine stance in the war with Russia sets her apart from some of her fellow nationalists in Europe.

She has also tried to distance herself from the party’s neo-fascist heritage, but there remains much concern in Europe that Ms Meloni will damage Italy’s standing.

“Centre-right clearly ahead both in the lower house and the Senate," Mr Salvini said on Twitter. "It'll be a long night but even now I want to say thanks."

RAI said the right-wing alliance would win between 227 and 257 of the 400 seats in the lower house of parliament and 111-131 of the 200 Senate seats.

The PD conceded defeat early on Monday and said it would be the largest opposition force in the next Parliament.

"This is a sad evening for the country," Debora Serracchiani, a senior PD legislator, said in the party's first official comment on the result.

"(The right) has the majority in Parliament but not in the country."

The result caps a remarkable rise for Ms Meloni, whose party won only 4 per cent of the vote in the last national election in 2018.

Provisional data pointed to turnout of just 64.1 per cent — a record low number — against 74 per cent four years ago.

Italy's first autumn national election in more than a century was sparked by party infighting that brought down Mario Draghi's broad national unity government in July.

The new, slimmed-down Parliament will not meet until October 13, at which point the head of state will summon party leaders and decide on the shape of the new government.

Full results are expected on Monday.

Updated: September 26, 2022, 4:04 AM