The right-wing coalition led by Giorgia Meloni has claimed victory in Italy’s elections after exit polls put her clearly on course to become the country’s first female prime minister.
The Brothers of Italy leader promised to govern for all Italians, despite fears among many opponents over what is set to be the most right-wing government since the end of the second world war.
The full results are due on Monday, but exit polls conducted by Italian broadcaster Rai showed Meloni’s coalition gaining 41%-45% of the vote whilst the left-wing bloc picked up 25.5%-29.5%. The populist Five Star Movement was on 13.5%-17.5%.
Brothers of Italy, which has neo-fascist origins, is also set to win by far the biggest share of the votes within the coalition with 26%, making Meloni’s party the dominant force in right-wing politics in Italy. Matteo Salvini’s far-right League and Silvio Berlusconi’s center-right Forza Italia, the other prominent members of the coalition, were polling to pick up 9% and 8% of the vote respectively.
Meloni said that Italian voters had given a clear mandate to the right to form the next government and called for unity to help confront the problems the country faces.
“This is a night of pride for Brothers of Italy, but it is a starting point, not a finish line,” she said in an address to supporters.
“If we are called upon to govern this nation, we will do so for all Italians, with the aim of uniting the people, of exalting what unites them rather than what divides them,” Meloni told reporters. “We will not betray your trust.”
Italy’s main center-left group, the Democratic party, conceded defeat.
“This is a sad evening for the country,” lawmaker Debora Serracchiani told reporters in the party’s first official comment on the result. “(The right) has the majority in parliament, but not in the country.”