The SWG projections, which are compiled using a sample of votes, gave the Euroskeptic, anti-corruption Five Star Movement 32 percent of the votes for the Chamber of Deputies, and put Lega ahead of its coalition partner, the Silvio Berlusconi-led Forza Italia, with 18 against 14 percent. The current ruling center-left Democratic Party was predicted to gain 19 percent of the vote.
Official results for the election to the 630-member Chamber of Deputies, and the 320-seat Senate, which have identical powers, but are voted in by a different franchise and rules, are expected on Monday.
The final turnout of 73 percent is the lowest in Italy’s post-WWII history.
With no parties large enough to form a majority, runners will likely seek to form a 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, but could agree to a more flexible arrangement.
“If the projections stand, this is a triumph for our party,” Alessandro Di Battista, one of Five-Star Movement’s most prominent politicians, told the gathered media. “For the first time everyone will have to come and talk to us. This is the best guarantee of transparency and honesty in Italian politics.”