Italians voted on Sunday in one of the most closely watched and unpredictable elections in years, with pent-up fury over a discredited elite adding to concern it may not produce a government strong enough to lead Italy out of an economic slump.
The election, which concludes on Monday
afternoon, is being followed closely by investors; their memories are still fresh of the potentially catastrophic debt crisis that saw Mario Monti, an economics professor and former bureaucrat, summoned to serve as prime minister in place of Silvio Berlusconi 15 months ago. A weak Italian government could, many fear, prompt a new dip in confidence in the European Union’s single currency.
Opinion polls give the centre-left a narrow lead but the result has been thrown completely open by the prospect of a huge protest vote against the painful austerity measures imposed by Monti’s government and deep anger over corruption scandals.
“I’m not confident that the government that emerges from the election will be able to solve any of our problems,” said Attilio Bianchetti, a 55-year-old builder in Milan.