Center-left wins Italy's lower house of parliament

Italy's parliamentary paralysis?

    Just Watched

    Italy's parliamentary paralysis?

Italy's parliamentary paralysis? 03:57

Story highlights

  • Results for the Senate showed the center-left winning with 31.63% of the vote
  • "It's by no means done, but it is exceptional," an analyst says
  • Bad weather is being blamed in part for low voter turnout

The center-left coalition headed by Pier Luigi Bersani appears to have won a narrow victory in elections for Italy's lower house of parliament, according to final figures released by the Interior Ministry.

Bersani's coalition won 29.54% of the vote cast for the lower house, less than half a percentage point more than the center-right coalition headed by controversial three-time Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, which garnered 29.18% of the vote.

Final results for the Senate showed the center-left winning with 31.63% of the vote, compared with the center-right's 30.72%.

Can the anti-Berlusconi pull Italy out of the mire?

"It's by no means done, but it is exceptional. This is the first time ever that Italy has had a hung parliament," said James Walston, a professor at The American University of Rome, before the final results.

"The center-left was not able to put forward a clear picture; they lack leadership. And Berlusconi, who was trailing way behind before Christmas, ended up putting together, reconstituting, a new center-right coalition," he said.

Voter turnout was lower than anticipated on Sunday, the first day of balloting, down from 62.55% in 2008 to 55.17% this year, the state-run ANSA news agency reported.

Changing Italy from the outside

    Just Watched

    Changing Italy from the outside

Changing Italy from the outside 02:25
Topless protesters denounce Berlusconi

    Just Watched

    Topless protesters denounce Berlusconi

Topless protesters denounce Berlusconi 00:49
Politicians in Italy make bold promises

    Just Watched

    Politicians in Italy make bold promises

Politicians in Italy make bold promises 03:08
Berlusconi neither down nor out

    Just Watched

    Berlusconi neither down nor out

Berlusconi neither down nor out 02:24

Weather, in part, appeared to cause the lower voter turnout, the news agency said. It was snowing in portions of northern Italy and raining in the southern part of the country.

The candidates and their alliances

Sampling polls were banned within two weeks of the elections, but the most recent ones had Bersani holding on to a slender lead over Berlusconi. Former comedian Beppe Grillo was a distant third.

All the candidates, with the exception of Grillo, cast their ballots Sunday, ANSA reported.

Italy's political system encourages the forming of alliances.

Beppe Grillo: Clown prince of Italian politics

For example, the Democratic Party has teamed with the more left-wing Left Ecology Freedom party. The center-left alliance is dominated by the Democratic Party, led by Bersani.

Bersani, 61, comes across as "bluff and homespun, and that's part of his appeal -- or not, depending on your point of view," said Walston, the analyst.

He described Bersani, a former communist, as a "revised apparatchik," saying the reform-minded socialist was paradoxically "far more of a free marketeer than even people on the right."

At second place in the polls was the center-right alliance led by Berlusconi's People of Freedom Party, or PdL, in coalition with the right-wing, anti-immigration Northern League.

Berlusconi has given conflicting signals as to whether he is running for the premiership, indicating that he would seek the job if his coalition won, but contradicting that on other occasions.

The septuagenarian playboy billionaire nicknamed "Il Cavaliere" has been campaigning as a Milan court weighs his appeal against a tax fraud conviction, for which he was sentenced to four years in jail last year. The verdict will be delivered after the elections; however, under the Italian legal system, he is entitled to a further appeal in a higher court.

Because the case dates to July 2006, the statute of limitations will expire this year, meaning there is a good chance none of the defendants will serve any prison time.

Why are elections taking place now?

Italian parliamentarians are elected for five-year terms, with the current one due to end in April.

But in December, the PdL withdrew its support of the reformist government led by Mario Monti, saying it was pursuing policies that "were too German-centric."

Monti subsequently resigned, and the parliament was dissolved.

      Italian election

    • ctw intv girlfriend in a coma documentary on italy_00015828.jpg

      To repair their country, Italians will need to shed their ignavia and to become more active and demanding, the makers of "Girlfriend in a Coma" say.
    • Pier Luigi Bersani, leader of Italy's Democratic Party, takes part in an anti-racist march on December 17, 2011.

      He won't claim to be the Jesus Christ of politics, or praise Barack Obama's "tan", and it's highly unlikely you'll bump into him at a bunga bunga party.
    • Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi (R) poses with a supporter during a meeting with youth members of his People of Freedom (PDL) party in Rome on September 12, 2010

      In further proof that seemingly nothing can bring him down, Italy's most colorful public figure is back in contention to lead his country once again.
    • This file picture taken on December 23, 2010 shows Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi giving his end of the year press conference at Villa Madama in Rome.

      Despite the many scandals that have dogged Berlusconi since he entered politics nearly two decades ago, he is indisputably one of life's survivors.
    •  A fan waves the Italian flag as he leaves the arena of the Circus Maximus, after the UEFA EURO 2012 final match between Italy and Spain on July 1, 2012 in Rome, Italy.

      When a journalist polled friends and contacts for their views on the elections, she found a breadth of views and a considerable dose of cynicism.
    • Eurozone bank notes and coin (file picture)

      Italy's run-off between an ex-communist and a former cruise ship singer threatens to throw the country back into the spotlight of the crisis.
    • (File) Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi gestures during a press conference after an emergency summit of European Union leaders on the crisis in Georgia at the headquarters of the European Council on September 1, 2008 in Brussels.

      A leading figure in the party poised to head Italy's next government says a return of former PM Silvio Berlusconi, would be "disaster."