Silvio Berlusconi, leader of right-wing party Forza Italia, prepares to vote on March 4, 2018 at a polling station in Milan. 
Italians vote today in one of the country's most uncertain elections, with far-right and populist parties expected to make major gains and Silvio Berlusconi set to play a leading role. / AFP PHOTO / Miguel MEDINA
Silvio Berlusconi, leader of right-wing party Forza Italia, prepares to vote on March 4, 2018 at a polling station in Milan. AFP / Miguel Medina

Italians head to polls after bitter campaign

Italians are voting on Sunday after a bitter campaign dominated by anti-migrant rhetoric and frustration with the listless economy.

Polls published before a blackout imposed two weeks ago showed a hung parliament as the most likely outcome, although far-right and populist parties are expected to make major gains.

Voting stations are open until 11 p.m. (2 a.m. UAE time), when the first exit polls will be released. Consolidated results are expected on Monday.

Long lines were reported in voting locations from Milan in the north to Palermo in Sicily, where several stations opened later because several thousand ballots had to be reprinted because of errors.

A hung parliament would trigger an extended period of back-room haggling and horse trading among the parties as they seek to come up with a coalition government that can win confidence votes in Parliament. Just which parties coalesce from among the three main blocs — the centre-right coalition, centre-left coalition and the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement — will determine Italy's course.

Most pollsters predict the 5-Star Movement, led by 31-year-old Luigi Di Maio, will be the largest vote-getter among any single party. However, they are unlikely to win enough votes to rule on their own and they have repeatedly rejected the idea of striking deals with other parties.

Mr Di Maio has recently suggested he would be open to talking with potential allies, but most analysts still don’t think he will agree to take part in a governing coalition. “Doing so would mean a major loss of credibility in the eyes of the movement’s voters, and we believe that most established parties would be reluctant to conclude an alliance with M5S, as well,” Peter Ceretti, Italy analyst at the Economist Intelligence Unit, told The National.

Instead, four-time premier Silvio Berlusconi could end up the kingmaker after the election. His Forza Italia party is polling at around 18 per cent, but it has joined forces with other centre-right parties in a coalition which is predicted to scoop up around 37 per cent of votes.

The 81-year-old billionaire is himself barred from becoming prime minister again due to a tax fraud conviction, but he has tapped European Parliament President Antonio Tajani, considered a pro-European moderate, as his pick if the centre-right is asked to form a government.


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Matteo Salvini, the leader of the anti-migrant League which is part of Mr Berlusconi’s coalition, is gunning for the top job too though, and some pro-European analysts envision a possible "nightmare scenario" of an extremist alliance among the 5-Star, the League and nationalistic, neofascist-rooted Brothers of Italy. The presence in Rome this weekend of Steve Bannon, right-wing populist architect of Donald Trump's White House campaign, was an indication of the stakes.

Another possibility is that Forza Italia and the centre-left Democratic Party, led by former prime minister Matteo Renzi, build a “grand coalition” after the election in order to shut the 5-Star Movement out of power. It is a prospect that would reassure investors but risks spreading more cynicism and emboldening populists and the far-right.

With unemployment at 10.8 per cent and economic growth in the eurozone's third-largest economy lagging the average, many Italians have all but given up hope for change. Polls indicated a third hadn't decided or weren't even sure they would vote. The 5-Star Movement, set up in 2009 by stand-up comedian Beppe Grillo, hoped to capitalise on such disgust, particularly among Italy's young.

Immigration has been the other dominant theme in the election. The campaign was marked by the prime-time airing of neofascist rhetoric and anti-migrant violence that culminated in a shooting spree last month against six Africans.

The centre-right coalition has capitalised on the anti-migrant sentiment. Mr Berlusconi and Mr Salvini have promised to expel 600,000 illegal migrants if they win power – a proposal dismissed by the centre-left as logistically impossible.

Markets will be watching closely to see if Italy will succumb to the populist, Eurosceptic and far-right sentiment that has swept through Europe.

Last year French President Emmanuel Macron and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte held off the challenge of Eurosceptic populists in national elections and Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party remained the biggest force in the German parliament despite the rise of the anti-immigrant AfD.

Heavily indebted Italy is the third-largest economy in the eurozone and prolonged political stalemate could reawaken the threat of market instability.

However, the prospect of a hung parliament hasn’t scared investors in the run-up to the vote, with Italy’s benchmark stock index the best performer of major European markets this year.

Second Test, Day 2:

South Africa 335 & 75/1 (22.0 ov)
England 205
South Africa lead by 205 runs with 9 wickets remaining

Fixture and table

UAE finals day: Friday, April 13 at Rugby Park, Dubai Sports City

  • 3pm, UAE Conference: Dubai Tigers v Sharjah Wanderers
  • 6.30pm, UAE Premiership: Dubai Exiles v Abu Dhabi Harlequins


UAE Premiership – final standings

  1. Dubai Exiles
  2. Abu Dhabi Harlequins
  3. Jebel Ali Dragons
  4. Dubai Hurricanes
  5. Dubai Sports City Eagles
  6. Abu Dhabi Saracens
The Gandhi Murder
  • 71 - Years since the death of MK Gandhi, also christened India's Father of the Nation
  • 34 - Nationalities featured in the film The Gandhi Murder
  • 7 - million dollars, the film's budget 
Asia Cup Qualifier

UAE v Hong Kong

Live on OSN Cricket HD. Coverage starts at 5.30am

Four-day collections of TOH

Day             Indian Rs (Dh)        

Thursday    500.75 million (25.23m)

Friday         280.25m (14.12m)

Saturday     220.75m (11.21m)

Sunday       170.25m (8.58m)

Total            1.19bn (59.15m)

(Figures in millions, approximate)

The biog

Favourite Quote: “Real victories are those that protect human life, not those that result from its destruction emerge from its ashes,” by The late king Hussain of Jordan.

Favourite Hobby: Writing and cooking

Favourite Book: The Prophet by Gibran Khalil Gibran

The specs

Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl turbo
Power: 261hp at 5,500rpm
Torque: 400Nm at 1,750-4,000rpm
Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch auto
Fuel consumption: 10.5L/100km
On sale: Now
Price: From Dh129,999 (VX Luxury); from Dh149,999 (VX Black Gold)


Edinburgh: November 4 (unchanged)

Bahrain: November 15 (from September 15); second daily service from January 1

Kuwait: November 15 (from September 16)

Mumbai: January 1 (from October 27)

Ahmedabad: January 1 (from October 27)

Colombo: January 2 (from January 1)

Muscat: March 1 (from December 1)

Lyon: March 1 (from December 1)

Bologna: March 1 (from December 1)

Source: Emirates

The Boy and the Heron

Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Starring: Soma Santoki, Masaki Suda, Ko Shibasaki

Rating: 5/5


Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo

Transmission: eight-speed automatic

Power: 258hp at 5,000-6,500rpm

Torque: 400Nm from 1,550-4,400rpm

Fuel economy, combined: 6.4L/100km

Price, base: from D215,000 (Dh230,000 as tested)

On sale: now


Developer: SCE Studio Cambridge
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Console: PlayStation, PlayStation 4 and 5
Rating: 3.5/5


Display: Main – 6.7" FHD Dynamic Amoled 2X, 2640 x 1080, 22:9, 425ppi, HDR10+, up to 120Hz; cover – 1.9" Super Amoled, 512 x 260, 302ppi

Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1, 4nm, octa-core; Adreno 730 GPU

Memory: 8GB

Capacity: 128/256/512GB

Platform: Android 12, One UI 4.1.1

Main camera: Dual 12MP ultra-wide (f/2.2) + 12MP wide (f/1.8), OIS, portrait, super slo-mo, hyperlapse

Video: 4K@30/60fps, full-HD@30/60fps, HD@30fps; slo-mo@240/960fps; HDR10+

Front camera: 10MP (f/2.4)

Battery: 3700mAh, 25W fast charging, 15W wireless charging, reverse wireless charging, 'all-day' life

Connectivity: 5G; Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.2, NFC (Samsung Pay)


Cards: Nano-SIM + eSIM; no microSD slot

Colours: Bora purple, graphite, pink gold, blue; Bespoke Edition in select countries

In the box: Flip 4, USB-C-to-USB-C cable

Price: Dh3,799 / Dh3,999 / Dh4,449

Company profile

Date started: May 2022
Founder: Husam Aboul Hosn
Based: DIFC
Sector: FinTech — Innovation Hub
Employees: eight
Stage: pre-seed
Investors: pre-seed funding raised from family and friends earlier this year




Touch is derived from rugby league. Teams consist of up to 14 players with a maximum of six on the field at any time.

Teams can make as many substitutions as they want during the 40 minute matches.

Similar to rugby league, the attacking team has six attempts - or touches - before possession changes over.

A touch is any contact between the player with the ball and a defender, and must be with minimum force.

After a touch the player performs a “roll-ball” - similar to the play-the-ball in league - stepping over or rolling the ball between the feet.

At the roll-ball, the defenders have to retreat a minimum of five metres.

A touchdown is scored when an attacking player places the ball on or over the score-line.

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