December 02
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Italians began casting their votes on Sunday in what is being dubbed as a crucial election, DW reported.

People aged 18 and above are voting for lawmakers in both the lower house Chamber of Deputies and the Senate, the upper house of parliament.

Balloting began at 7 a.m. local time (0500 GMT) and will run until 11 p.m., with the exit polls being released when voting ends.

But it may take hours before a precise seat count is available due to complex calculations required by a hybrid proportional/first-past-the-post electoral law.

The snap general election was triggered by outgoing Prime Minister Mario Draghi's resignation in July when the populist 5-Star Movement —one of the several parties in Draghi's marquee coalition, which included leftists, right-wing and centrist parties— decided to withdraw its support for the prime minister's economic aid decree.

Draghi, who was chosen by the president to form a government after the previous 5-Star-led government bundled, has said that he will not contest again.

The key election also comes at a time when Europe is reeling from the effects of Russia's war in Ukraine.

The vote could see a return to Italy's most right-wing government since World War II — bringing euroskeptic populists to the heart of Europe.

There are five main candidates—including three former heads of government and two far-right leaders—vying for power in the elections.

A right-wing alliance led by Giorgia Meloni's Brothers of Italy party appears to be leading in as per the opinion polls and looks set to take office in a coalition with the far-right League and Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia parties.

Meloni—who has previously expressed admiration for former Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini—could become Italy's first female prime minister.

The frontrunner for the center-left alliance is the Democratic Party led by Enrico Letta.

There are speculations that support for the 5-Star Movement has gained some momentum in the last few days. A late surge by the left-leaning party could put the rightist alliance's chances of clinching a majority in the Senate in jeopardy, making the process of forming a government more complex.

If Meloni's Brothers of Italy party manages to become the strongest force in the center-right populist coalition governing Italy, it could impact Rome's relationship with the EU.

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