Italy is facing political deadlock after the country’s latest general election ended in what has been described as an “extraordinary” result.
The indications are the centre-left has narrowly won the lower house of parliament but former premier Silvio Berlusconi’s centre-right is challenging for control of the Senate.
Under the Italian political system, control of both houses is needed to govern.
An anti-establishment movement led by comedian Beppe Grillo, has unexpectedly surged into third place across the country.
Italians have lived with the austerity measures of an unelected technocrat government since late 2011, which could explain the sudden surge in support for the populist Five Star Movement.
Overall Grillo’s group won 8.7 million votes, more than any other single party.
Outgoing technocrat Prime Minister Mario Monti, once on an approval rate of 60 percent came a distant fourth with only around 10 percent of the vote.
A final declaration from the interior ministry is not expected for some hours.