(CNN) — Italy will be run by the most far-right government since the fascist era of Benito Mussolini, early exit polls suggest.
An alliance of far-right parties, led by Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party, whose origins lie in post-war fascism, was on track to win 41-45% of the vote in Sunday’s general election. , according to data from the exit pollster Rai Piepoli.
The ultra-conservative Brothers of Italy party is likely to win 22-26% of the vote, while coalition partners the League, led by Matteo Salvini, get 8.5-12.5% and Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia gets between 6 and 8% of the vote. The vote.
As the leader of a far-right coalition, Meloni, a 45-year-old Eurosceptic firebrand, will now become Italy’s first woman prime minister. Final results are expected early Monday morning.
Meloni’s party has seen a meteoric rise in popularity in recent years, having obtained just 4.5% of the vote in the last election, in 2018.
His popularity underscores Italy’s longstanding rejection of mainstream politics, seen most recently with the country’s support for anti-establishment parties such as the Five Star Movement and Salvini’s League.
Meloni, a 45-year-old Roman mother who has campaigned under the banner “God, Country and Family,” leads a party whose agenda is rooted in Euroscepticism, anti-immigration policies and which has also proposed reducing community rights. LGBTQ and access to abortion.
Sunday’s snap national elections were triggered by party infighting that led to the collapse of Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s government in July.
Voters headed to the polls amid a series of new regulations, with voting hours also limited to one day instead of two.
Other changes included a younger voting age for the Senate and a reduction in the number of seats to elect, from 685 seats to 400 in the Senate and from 315 to 200 in the Lower House of Parliament. That parliament is scheduled to meet on October 13, at which time the head of state will call party leaders to decide on the form of the new government.
The buildup to the election was dominated by hot-button issues, including Italy’s cost-of-living crisis, a 209 billion euro package from the European Covid-19 recovery fund and the country’s support for Ukraine.
However, Meloni differs from fellow coalition leaders Berlusconi and Salvini on several issues, including Ukraine, and has no connection to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Berlusconi and Salvini have said they would like to review sanctions against Russia because of their impact on the Italian economy, but Meloni has been adamant in his support of defending Ukraine.
Sunday’s results come as other far-right parties in other European countries have marked recent gains, including the rise of Sweden’s anti-immigration party, the Sweden Democrats, a movement with neo-Nazi roots that is expected to play a major role in the new government after winning the second largest share of seats in the general election earlier this month.
And in France, while far-right ideologue Marine Le Pen lost the French presidential election to Emmanuel Macron in April, her turnout in the popular vote shifted France’s political center dramatically to the right.