Anti-establishment Eurosceptics surge in Italian election, centrist parties shrink – exit polls

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                        <strong>The Five-Star Movement has come out as the top individual party in Italy's election, while the anti-immigration Lega also outperformed expectations, exit polls suggest. Pro-EU centrists suffered dramatic losses on Sunday.</strong>

        The RAI exit poll predicted 30.5 percent for the Eurosceptic, anti-corruption Five Star Movement, and pegged Lega on a par with its coalition partner, the Silvio Berlusconi-led Forza Italia, at 14.5 percent. The ruling socialist Democratic Party was predicted to gain 22 percent of the vote.

READ MORE: Eurosceptics, nativists & Berlusconi look to replace socialist coalition

Italian exit polls during the last parliamentary election in 2013 were out by as much as five percent from the final results, and observers urged caution at least until reliable projections emerge in several hours. Official results are expected on Monday.

The turnout was 58.42 percent at 7:00 pm, suggesting that 2018 was going to be the fourth parliamentary election in a row to register a fall in the number of voters.

With no parties large enough to form a majority in the Senate and Chamber of Deputies, the country’s two equally-powerful legislative assemblies, runners will likely enter a permanent ruling coalition. The Five-Star Movement, which caps a meteoric rise since its founding in 2009 by the comedian Beppe Grillo, has vowed that it will not join others in a coalition government.