Far-right leader Giorgia Meloni has claimed victory in Italy’s election, and is on course to become the country’s first female prime minister.
Ms Meloni is widely expected to form Italy’s most right-wing government since World War Two.
Speaking after the vote, Ms Meloni said her Brothers of Italy party would “govern for everyone” and would not betray people’s trust.
“Italians have sent a clear message in favour of a right-wing government led by Brothers of Italy,” she told reporters in Rome, holding up a sign saying “Thank you Italy”.
She is set to win around 26% of the vote, ahead of her closest rival Enrico Letta from the centre left. Mr Letta told reporters on Monday that the far-right victory was a “sad day for Italy and Europe” but his party would provide a “strong and intransigent opposition”.
The party’s dramatic success in the vote disguised the fact that her allies performed poorly, with the League slipping below 9%, and Forza Italia even lower.
Their big advantage, however, was that where they were able to put up one unified candidate in a constituency, their opponents in the left and centre could not agree a common position and stood separately.
Giorgia Meloni appears certain to become prime minister but it will be for the president, Sergio Mattarella, to nominate her and that is unlikely to happen before late October.
Ms Meloni wants to revisit Italian reforms agreed with the EU in return for almost €200bn (£178bn) in post-Covid recovery grants and loans, arguing that the energy crisis has changed the situation.
Italy is already the second most indebted country in the eurozone and Prof Leila Simona Talani of King’s College London believes the next government will face a clutch of serious issues.
Ms Meloni wants a naval blockade to stop migrant boats leaving Libya, and Matteo Salvini is known to covet the job of interior minister which he held three years ago. However, he is currently on trial for barring a boat from docking as part of his policy to close ports to rescue boats.
This election marks a one-third reduction in the size of the two houses, and that appears to have benefited the winning parties.
The make-up of the Chamber and Senate is not yet clear but a YouTrend projection said the right-wing alliance would hold as many as 238 of the 400 seats in the lower house and 112 of the 200 seats in the upper house.
As for the centre left, they are projected to have 78 seats in the Chamber and 40 in the Senate.