Italians vote in country's general elections

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Italians vote in country's general elections

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The Five Star Movement is expected to come in second place but get the most support of any single party with 29 per cent of the votes.

It's unlikely that the upcoming Italian elections will yield a coalition of populist parties, which would unsettle both financial markets and business leaders, but neither are they likely to prove the much-needed cauldron in which an ambitious pro-reform coalition is forged, said analysts at Oxford Economics.

The 43-year-old leader of the ruling centre-left Democratic Party (PD) is struggling to regain political momentum, still smarting from the constitutional referendum defeat of December 2016 that led to his resignation as prime minister.

Berlusconi said Thursday that Tajani will be premier if the centre right wins and FI is the biggest party in the coalition. But in Italy, the birthplace of fascism, they are a full partner in it.

There has been a young man knifed while affixing posters for a far-left party, a politician for a far-right party beaten up on a street, a candidate for prime minister spat upon and shoved while stumping for her far-right party and protests and counter-protests in the streets from north to south.

The same poll found former Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi dueling for the center-right's leadership with anti-migrant party leader Matteo Salvini; their respective Forza Italia and League parties were running almost neck-and-neck.

La Lega, previously known as the Northern League, openly embraces an "Italians first" ideology while Five Star has focused on corruption, but their ascent in recent years from fringe parties to significant players in Italian politics has underscored the depth of anger within the electorate.

"Even if we go there and do unbelievable things, we have to remember our hearts, what drove us, the big speeches, the fighting talk", he said.

Berlusconi, a media tycoon and leader of the Forza Italia political party, did not overtly react, speedily casting his ballot and departing.

Italy's economic and political troubles are well-known.

Italy's current Prime Minister Paulo Gentiloni is [3.5] to keep his job.

But a PD official attending the event said on condition of anonymity that the party was "very worried" it might lose seats in the region around Florence, its traditional stronghold.

Ultimately, the party which uses negative campaigning the most is the 5Star Movement: not only do 5Star candidates use more than 10% of their tweets to attack their opponents, but they tweet more about Matteo Renzi (4.1%) and Silvio Berlusconi (3.9%) than they do about Luigi Di Maio himself (3.8%).

Some pollsters say the League could overtake Berlsuconi's Forza Italia party on Sunday.

A 2013 conviction for tax fraud means he can not hold public office and he has put forward Antonio Tajani, president of the European Parliament, as his candidate for prime minister. Berlusconi is instead proposing European Union parliament chief Antonio Tajani for the job.

By law, campaigning is banned on the day before the vote, so parties were holding final rallies throughout Italy on Friday.

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