BLOG: Italian election exit polls suggest victory for Giorgia Meloni

Get real time updates directly on you device, subscribe now.

01.10 – That’s all for now

It’s getting late and we’re going to wrap this blog up for the night. Thanks to everyone who has followed our updates on this historic election.

The count will continue through the night, with the results for the Senate to come before counting begins for the Lower House. You can see the current official results as they come in on the Interior Ministry’s official election website here. Concrete results are expected by around 7-8am on Monday.

We’ll be back then with all the news and reaction.

Here’s a quick recap of the main points from tonight

  • The right-wing alliance led by Giorgia Meloni’s post-fascist Brothers of Italy party is set to win the election with a large majority, as predicted, according to exit polls tonight.
  • As leader of the largest party in the coalition (and overall) Meloni would be on course to become Italy’s first ever woman prime minister
  • A Meloni-led government would be the most far-right government in Italy since the Second World War.
  • Voter turnout fell again: it was just below 64 percent, nine points less than at the last election in 2018 and the lowest in the history of the Republic.

00.55 – Hungary’s Viktor Orban congratulates Meloni

Hungary’s prime minister Victor Orban has sent a message of congratulations to Giorgia Meloni on her expected victory via his political director Balazs Orban.

In these difficult times, we need more than ever friends who share a common vision and approach to Europe’s challenges,” he said.

Poland’s right-wing prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki also tweeted his congratulations to Giorgia Meloni.

These hard-right populist governments will gain a major boost from having an ally in Italy, which is a member of G7 and Nato.

00.30 – Who makes up the likely new Italian government?

While all the talk has been about Giorgia Meloni and her far-right Brothers of Italy party it’s important to remember that the next Italian government (if exit polls are correct) will be an alliance of probably three right-wing parties.

Along with Meloni’s Brothers of Italy (FdI) the government will likely feature coalition partners Matteo Salvini’s far-right League and former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia. Yes it’s hard to believe that Berlusconi and his party will once again be part of an Italian government, but that looks likely to be the case (although there have been suggestions Meloni and Salvini could form a coalition without him if they take enough of the vote).

Here’s a reminder of who they are.

Forza Italia leader Silvio Berlusconi (centre), set to return to government with Matteo Salvini and Giorgia Meloni. Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP

00.20 Has the right won a ‘super majority’?

If the exit polls and projections so far are confirmed, it’s beyond doubt that Italy’s right-wing bloc has won a majority. 

But one question people in Italy have been asking throughout the election campaign is whether it could win a large enough share of the vote to form a government with a ‘super majority’ – a two-thirds majority of the seats in both houses of parliament. Read more about that here.

A government with such a large majority would be able to make changes to the political system itself, and therefore the constitution, without consulting voters via a referendum – including to how the president is elected, or the powers the prime minister has.

This would be unprecedented in Italy’s postwar history.

Until the final results arrive in a few hours’ time, we won’t know for sure. But here’s the proportion of seats each party or alliance is expected to get in each house according to analysis of projections by national broadcaster Rai:

Seats in the lower house (Chamber of Deputies) total seats available: 400

Right-wing alliance: 227-257 

Centre-left alliance: 78-98

Five Star Movement 36-56

‘Third pole’: Action and Italia Viva 15-25

Italexit 0

Others 3-5

Seats in the Senate (200)

Right: 111-131

Centre-left: 33-53

Five Star Movement: 14-34

‘Third pole’: 4-12

Italexit 0 

Others 3-5

These numbers show that the right-wing alliance is projected to fall just short of winning the coveted two-thirds majority in both houses.

00.20 – First projections for the Senate

The first projections are now starting to come in. These are based on the actual votes cast so far and so are much more reliable than exit polls – though this is still not the official result.

The projections for the upper house give Meloni’s far-right Brothers of Italy 24.6 percent of the vote, and the centre-left Partito Democratico comes second with 19.4 percent.

The Five Star Movement are set to take 16.5 percent.

More importantly for Meloni, her coalition partners the League and Forza Italia get 8.5 percent and 8 percent respectively.

Votes for the Senate are counted first, so we won’t see similar figures for the lower house until later.

00:05 How did each part of Italy vote?

The breakdown of the vote on a geographical basis won’t be known for certain until all the results are in of course, but according to one exit poll that you can see in the tweet below much of Italy has turned blue – the colour that represents the right-wing alliance.

The map on the left is for the lower house and the map on the right is for the Senate. These are based on exit polls.

23.50 – Salvini says right wing bloc has “clear advantage”

The leader of the hard-right anti-immigrant League party Matteo Salvini, whose party will likely be part of a new right-wing government, said the exit polls showed they had a clear advantage in both houses of parliament.

“It will be a long night, but already now I want to say THANK YOU,” said Salvini in a tweet.

23:40 Huge challenges facing Italy’s next PM

Just to give an idea of the challenge facing Giorgia Meloni if she does take charge of Italy’s next government, here are a couple of lines from AFP:

“Like much of Europe, Italy is suffering rampant inflation while an energy crisis looms this winter, linked to the conflict in Ukraine.

The Italian economy, the third largest in the eurozone, is also saddled with a debt worth 150 percent of gross domestic product.”

Is Giorgia Meloni and the Brothers of Italy party far-right?

Giorgia Meloni presents herself as a patriotic “Christian mother”, and as a straight-speaking Roman raised by a single mother in a working-class neighbourhood. In fiery speeches, Meloni rails against what she calls “LGBT lobbies”, “woke ideology” and “the violence of Islam”.

She has vowed to stop the tens of thousands of migrants who arrive on Italy’s shores each year, a position she shares with Salvini, who is currently on trial for blocking charity rescue ships when he was interior minister in 2019.

READ ALSO: Political cheat sheet: Understanding the Brothers of Italy

The centre-left Democratic Party says Meloni is a danger to democracy. It also claims her government would pose a serious risk to hard-won rights such as abortion and will ignore global warming, despite Italy being on the front line of the climate emergency.

On the economy, Meloni’s coalition pledges to cut taxes while increasing social spending, regardless of the cost.

But just how far right is she and her party? We explore that question in the article below.

EXPLAINED: Is Brothers of Italy a ‘far right’ party?

Giorgia Meloni speaking at a campaign rally in Rome. Photo by Igor PETYX / ANSA / AFP

23.25: Meloni looks set to be Italy’s first woman PM if exit polls confirmed

With exit polls (below) suggesting the far-right Brothers of Italy party will come out on top, that means Italy looks set to get its first woman as prime minister.

As head of the party with the most votes, Giorgia Meloni would be expected to lead a right-wing coalition government. However there are suggestions that her coalition partner, League leader Matteo Salvini, might also try to make a bid to become PM.

But with Meloni’s party expected to win double the share of Salvini’s according to exit polls, it’s hard to imagine Salvini being able to wrestle the position of coalition leader and prime minister away from Meloni

23.20 Exit polls show big victory for far right

More exit polls are coming in now and, while the percentages vary slightly, they all show the same thing: Meloni’s Fratelli d’Italia (FdI) party and the right-wing coalition with her allies, Matteo Salvini’s far-right League and former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, was expected to win a clear majority in both houses of parliament.

Exit polls published by the Rai public broadcaster and Quorum/YouTrend both put Brothers of Italy on top, at between 22 and 26 percent of the vote.

23.10 First exit polls

Polling company Youtrend just presented the first exit poll, giving a large majority to the right-wing bloc, as expected.

It put the right on 42 percent, with the small centre-left coalition led by the PD on 28 percent. This is more or less in line with opinion polls two weeks ago.

Remember these are exit polls and not the official results. There are several other polling companies conducting exit polls tonight, so we’ll also publish those results when they’re out.

23.00 Polls closed

That’s all, folks. Voting is now over, polling stations are closing their doors, and the first exit polls with predicted results will come out within the next half an hour.

22.55 – Campaign blackout?

Election campaigning was supposed to end officially on Friday night, when a blackout begins before the vote to give voters a “period of contemplation”. 

Of course campaign blackouts aren’t that realistic in the time of social media though and it just means candidates get creative with their messaging.

Take for example this TikTok video posted by FdI leader Giorgia Meloni today:

She’s saying “September 25th – I’ve said it all” – a reference to the fact that she’s not really meant to be saying anything. And yes, her surname means ‘melons’.

22:40 – What’s a super-majority in Italy?

Italy’s election on Sunday is expected to produce a far-right government, but how big a majority will it have and what difference does this make?

In Italy there is a difference between a majority and a so-called super-majority. Here’s a quick guide to how the system works, what the difference is, and why it matters so much.

READ ALSO: What’s the difference between a majority and ‘super majority’?

22.30 What are the expected results?

This definitely hasn’t been an election campaign that has kept us on the edge of our seats.

The prediction from the start of the election campaign has been that the right-wing coalition led by Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party will win by a landslide, allowing it to form a government with a large majority.

The most recent opinion polls, published two weeks ago before the pre-election polling embargo began, showed this was by far the most likely outcome.

Italian elections: What’s the difference between a majority and ‘super majority’?

But after what’s been called “one of the worst election campaigns of the post-war period”, with the result looking sure from the start and a severe shortage of any policy to discuss, is there any chance of a surprise result livening things up?

Probably not, the experts say – although voter sentiment has apparently shifted somewhat since the last polls two weeks ago.

Support for the left-leaning Five Star Movement appears to have surged while the hard-right League is flagging, according to pollsters interviewed by Reuters this week.

Still, most said the prediction that the right will take a majority in both houses of parliament and form the next government remains by far the most likely outcome, even if it has been thrown into doubt somewhat by Five Star’s rise.

The polls close in half an hour, and we won’t have much longer to wait after that for the exit polls, which give us an initial, if imperfect, idea of whether the long-predicted result is likely to become reality.

21.50 Long queues, but lower turnout

Long queues were reported at some polling stations around the country today, in some cases with voters queuing before they opened at 7am – leading to speculation that there would be higher turnout than in the 2018 election

But it looks like turnout is in fact lower, according to interior ministry figures, which put it at 51 percent at 7pm – four hours before polls closed – down from 58 percent.

EXPLAINED: Who’s who in Italy’s general election?

The lowest turnout was in the south and islands, according to analysis of the official data by Youtrend, at 40 percent – 12.1 percent lower than in 2018. Political commentators are saying this is likely bad news for the Five Star Movement, which won most of its support from southern regions in 2018.

This highest turnout at 56 percent was in the north-west, which also happens to be where the far-right Brothers of Italy party and the League (formerly the Northern League) have their biggest support base.

Another interesting bit of analysis from Youtrend: turnout is down much more in municipalities with fewer foreign residents (-10.6%) and is down much less in areas where more foreigners live (-5.4 %). “The more foreigners there are, the less the turnout falls”, Youtrend notes.

Lower turnout overall this time isn’t a surprise. Abstentionism was expected to increase, with opinion polls during the election campaign predicting as many as 16 million voters would refrain from voting – Italy has a voting population of just over 46.5 million.

Italian affluenza or voter turnout is generally fairly high by international standards: 73 percent of eligible voters voted in the last parliamentary election in 2018 – though this was the country’s worst-ever rate of participation, and the number has been steadily dropping for years.

Italy’s political leaders were pictured turning out for the vote. Here’s outgoing prime minister, Mario Draghi, who’s not campaigning for re-election and has made it clear he’s not interested in another term.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and his wife Maria Serenella Cappello arrive to cast their vote at the Liceo Mameli polling station in Rome. Photo by RICCARDO ANTIMIANI / ANSA / AFP

21.30 When do we get the first results?

Polls close at 11pm and counting starts immediately after. 

The first exit polls from the country’s leading news media should be out by 11.30. Though they are usually fairly close to the mark, exit polls can’t be relied upon entirely, as the 2013 exit poll debacle showed.

The time needed to announce the first official results depends on how many ballots there are to count. Turnout is expected to be similar to that at the last election in 2018 – maybe slightly lower – so Italian media are predicting 2am for the first official projections based on data from polling stations. Or maybe 3am. We could be in for a long night.

READ ALSO: An introductory guide to the Italian political system

Ballot papers for the election of the Senate are counted first. When that’s complete, volunteers will turn their attention to counting ballots for the lower house of parliament. 

21.00 Italy’s election night begins

Buonasera a tutti and welcome to The Local’s 2022 Italian election blog. There’s a lot at stake in these crucial elections as far right parties Brothers of Italy and the League are expected to win by a landslide.

Voting will close in two hours and we expect the first exit polls shortly after (you can read more here to get a sense of when things will happen tonight), but before then we’ll keep you posted with the latest news, predictions, expert insights and more.

READ ALSO: Far-right Brothers of Italy eyes historic victory as Italy votes

I’m The Local Italy’s editor Clare Speak and I’ll be updating you tonight as the exit polls and first results start to come in.

If you have questions, comments or feedback, please feel free to email or tweet me and I’ll do my best to answer (depending on how busy things get here tonight).

No matter how you feel about the election, I hope you’ll at least enjoy our coverage.

Not sure what to make of it all? Here’s our complete guide to the elections and what’s at stake.

Are you a member of The Local? If not, please consider joining us. If yes, thank you – your support helps us dedicate time and resources to this.