As election campaigning in Italy enters its final few days, the decisive lead of Pier Luigi Bersani’s Democratic Party could be under threat.
More than 10 points ahead in official polls two weeks ago, a variety of unofficial ones show support for the centre-left group could be waning.
In part, it is due to former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi – whose slew of media-savvy performances is helping his centre-right coalition between his People of Freedom party and The Northern League.
Outgoing prime minister Mario Monti is leading a centrist coalition, but there is speculation that the technocrat drafted in to rescue Italy’s economy in November 2011 could join a Bersani administration if the centre-left wins this election.
However, both will have to overcome apathy and anger according to Alessandro Barbano, the Editor-in-Chief of newspaper Il Mattino.
“The absentee ballot is growing and it’s an act of protest against traditional parties,” Barbano said.
“Secondly, populist, anti-establishment and anti-Europe movements are also growing,” he added.
Protest voting can not be ignored. Comedian Beppe Grillo’s scathing attacks on Italy’s politicians have won him a large following and his Five Star Movement may well come third.
A ban on any more official polls has intensified speculation on who will win, as voting takes place on Sunday and Monday, and whether the victors can lead the eurozone’s third largest economy out of recession.