Italian election looks set to be inconclusive
Neither side projected to have working majority in Senate25 February, 21:39
(ANSA) - Rome, February 25 - Italy's general election looks set to be inconclusive, with neither ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's centre right, nor Pier Luigi Bersani's centre left projected on Monday to have a working majority in the Senate.
An IPR projection for Berlusconi's own Mediaset network gave the centre left between 110 and 130 seats in the Upper House, 104 to 124 to the centre right, 40-60 to comedian Beppe Grillo's anti-establishment Five Star Movement and 8-18 to Premier Mario Monti's reform ticket backed by centrist parties.
A coalition needs 160 seats in the Senate to have a working majority.
It is harder to land a majority there as bonus seats for the winning alliance are handed out on a regional basis, unlike in the Lower House, where the calculations are done on a national basis.
Furthermore, the make-up of the Senate depends on the outcome of individual separate votes in Italy's regions, so it is possible for a coalition to win the most seats in it even if it loses the popular vote, if it carries some of the bigger regions, such as Lombardy - a key battleground.
With the counts in from almost 54,000 of the 60,431 voting stations, the centre left was ahead with 31.88% of the votes, compared to 30.48% for the centre right.
Although Berlusconi may not have enough seats to form an Italian government for the fourth time, he will see the result as good, as his coalition was trailing by double figures in the polls at the start of the campaign. Bersani looks set to win control of the House, thanks to the allocation of bonus seats that goes to the winning alliance.
The centre left had 30.42% of the vote, with ballot papers from around two-thirds of the polling stations counted, the interior ministry said.
Berlusconi's coalition had 28.27%.
The only real victors of the vote are the M5S, which was set to claim over 25% of the votes for the House, according to the ministry. Grillo, whose Internet-based movement had tapped into public disenchantment with the established parties caused in part by a series of corruption scandals, said via Twitter that "honesty will become fashionable" now.
Italian Nobel laureate for literature Dario Fo said the result was an "extraordinary victory" for young people.
"Cleaning up (politics) is winning, and so are young people," added Fo, who spoke during a blogcast hosted on Grillo's website.
But Monti, who took the helm of an emergency technocrat government after Berlusconi was forced to resign in November 2011 because Italy's debt crisis was threatening to spiral out of control, had a disappointing 10.53% of the vote in the House, with approximately two-thirds of the count done there.
He had 9.17% in the Senate, only just above the 8%-entry threshold.
Voter turnout was down roughly 6% with respect to the last elections in 2008. Around 75.2% of eligible voters cast a ballot in Senate elections, down from 80.77%, while 75.1% cast votes for the House, down from 80.65%. A greater number of Italians are eligible to vote for the House, where the minimum age limit is 18, compared to 25 for the Senate.
Analysts had long suspected a smaller showing at this year's elections citing high voter disaffection with Italian politics following scandals and economic woes - Italy has been in recession since 2011. Pundits have also pointed to bad weather as a factor.