Italy's love affair with populists continues. Uncertainty now prevails

Italian PM Matteo Renzi waved as he received UK Prime Minister Theresa May at Villa Pamphili

And one of its slogans was I want the Italy my grandparents left me. The League took some 17 percent of the overall vote, compared to 14 percent for Berlusconi's Forza Italia.

Considering Italy's dysfunctional labour market that forces the young and ambitious to emigrate, the country's aging population, a general perception of the European Union as the champion of austerity policies, the wave of over 600,000 immigrants that reached Italy in the last five years (while the EU failed to implement an asylum-seekers redistribution scheme proposed in 2015), the populist-xenophobic messages such as the Northern League's "Italy first" rhetoric appeal to a disillusioned electorate.

INSKEEP: OK. So make the Roman Empire great again - I get that part. In other words, neither Di Maio nor Salvini are willing to step aside and support a government they do not lead.

POGGIOLI: No, no - they've been - they've - in the past, both parties have called for a referendum on whether Italy should remain in the single currency eurozone, although they sort of peddled back that during the campaign.

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As elsewhere in Europe, a big driver of the electoral backlash was immigrants and refugees: More than 620,000 undocumented migrants have arrived in Italy since 2013, majority from sub-Saharan Africa.

Also, both the M5S's Luigi Di Maio and the League's Salvini have insisted that Mattarella grant them the task of forming a new government. The League's slogan is Italians first.

Italy is no stranger to populism - in fact, Italy has historically been a very strong and enduring market for populists, as epitomized by the Italian electorate's long-lasting fascination with Mr. Berlusconi, who rose to the top of Italian politics nearly a quarter of a century before a bombastic tycoon became the 45th President of the United States. But, you know, the European Union, Italy's partners, are going to have to do some soul-searching about leaving Italy on its own to absorb hundreds of thousands of migrants. No one holds the numbers to form a new government alone and the situation is very puzzling and uncertain.

With the vote count not yet official, the M5S is looking at between 230-240 seats in the lower house Chamber of Deputies and between 109-119 in the Senate. Then the president of Italy will entrust someone with the task to try to form a coalition.

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In projections based on samples from Sunday's voting, a centre-right coalition that included former Premier Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia, the anti-immigrant League and a small far-right party had a slight lead over the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement. The Five Star Movement, which was most successful in the impoverished south, has pledged to fight for a guaranteed basic income and better pensions-promises it has no intention of keeping. We'll see if that changes.

The increased difficulty in crafting a stable government might even force the country into new elections, possibly in the second half of the year, analysts said. Before the vote, he was quoted as saying "the Italian people have gone farther in a shorter period of time than the British did for Brexit and the Americans did for Trump".

"Even should Italy's position within the European Union remain that of a Europhile country, the uncertainty created could put substantial obstacles in the path to a Eurozone reform". However, due the complicated electoral law, no one has a majority to act autonomously.

"We just need to look at the two-speed Europe - look at two member states: Germany and France - that's becoming a reality, with an adverse and excluded western-central Europe, an indifferent northern Europe and a forgotten southern Europe", Scotto said, according to a report by the UK's Express.

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