Giorgia Meloni looks set to become Italy's first woman prime minister at the head of its most right-wing government since World War Two after leading a conservative alliance to triumph at Sunday's election, Reuters reported.
Near final results showed the rightist bloc should have a solid majority in both houses of parliament, potentially giving Italy a rare chance of political stability after years of upheaval and fragile coalitions.
But Meloni and her allies face a daunting list of challenges, including soaring energy prices, war in Ukraine, and renewed slowdown in the euro zone's third largest economy.
"We must remember that we are not at the end point, we are at the starting point. It is from tomorrow that we must prove our worth," the 45-year-old Meloni told cheering supporters of her nationalist Brothers of Italy party early Monday morning.
"If we are called on to govern this nation we will do it for all the Italians, with the aim of uniting the people and focusing on what unites us rather than what divides us," she said. "This is a time for being responsible."
With results counted in more than 90% of polling stations, the Brothers of Italy led with more than 26%, up from just 4% in the last national election in 2018, as voters opted for a largely untried figure to sort out the nation's many problems.
By contrast, her main ally suffered a disastrous night, with Matteo Salvini's League picking up around 9% of the vote, down from more than 17% four years ago, and being overtaken by Meloni in all its traditional fiefdoms in the north.
The other major conservative party, Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia, scored around 8%.
Although Meloni's alliance is forecast to hold comfortable majorities in the upper and lower houses, its members have divergent positions on several issues which might be difficult to reconcile.