Right-wing party Brothers of Italy's leader Giorgia Meloni speaks to the media at her party's electoral headquarters in Rome, Sept 25, 2022. (GREGORIO BORGIA / AP)
ROME – A right-wing alliance led by Giorgia Meloni's Brothers of Italy party was on course for a clear majority in the next parliament, giving the country its most right-wing government since World War Two.
Meloni, as leader of the largest coalition party, was also likely to become Italy's first woman prime minister.
Meloni, 45, plays down her party's post-fascist roots and portrays it as a mainstream conservative group.
Italy’s state broadcaster RAI said the right-wing alliance would win between 227 and 257 of the 400 seats in the lower house of parliament, and 111-131 of the 200 Senate seats
An exit poll for state broadcaster RAI said the bloc of conservative parties, that also includes Matteo Salvini's League and Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia party, won between 41 percent and 45 percent, enough to guarantee control of both houses of parliament.
READ MORE: Italy's frontrunner party bans candidate over Hitler praise
"Center-right clearly ahead both in the lower house and the Senate! It'll be a long night but even now I want to say thanks," Salvini said on Twitter.
Italy's electoral law favors groups that manage to create pre-ballot pacts, giving them an outsized number of seats by comparison with their vote tally.
RAI said the right-wing alliance would win between 227 and 257 of the 400 seats in the lower house of parliament, and 111-131 of the 200 Senate seats.
ALSO READ: Polls open in Italy, right-wing alliance seen winning
Full results are expected by early Monday.
Record low turnout
The result caps a remarkable rise for Meloni, whose party won only 4 percent of the vote in the last national election in 2018, but this time around was forecast to emerge as Italy's largest group on around 22-26 percent.
Voters come in and out of a polling station within casting their vote on Sept 25, 2022 in Rome. (ALBERTO PIZZOLI / AFP)
But it was not a ringing endorsement, with provisional data pointing to turnout of just 64.1 percent against 74 percent four years ago — a record low number in a country that has historically enjoyed a high level of voter participation
But it was not a ringing endorsement, with provisional data pointing to turnout of just 64.1 percent against 74 percent four years ago — a record low number in a country that has historically enjoyed a high level of voter participation.
Although heavy storms in the south appeared to have deterred many from voting there, participation fell across a swathe of northern and central cities, where the weather was calmer.
ALSO READ: Italy left in political limbo, early election beckons
Initial market reaction is likely to be muted given that opinion polls had forecast the result accurately.
"I don't expect a big impact although it's not necessarily the case that Italian assets will do particularly well tomorrow (Monday) given how the market is starting to treat Europe and countries with worrisome public finances and exposure to the crisis and Ukraine," said Giuseppe Sersale, fund manager and strategist at Anthilia in Milan.
Italy's first autumn national election in over a century was triggered by party infighting that brought down Prime Minister Mario Draghi's broad national unity government in July.
READ MORE: Mario Draghi resigns, plunging Italy into political turmoil
The new, slimmed-down parliament will not meet until Oct 13, at which point the head of state will summon party leaders and decide on the shape of the new government.