One of the most closely watched Italian elections of recent years has delivered a suitably dramatic result. Pier Luigi Bersani's center-left bloc has narrowly beaten Silvio Berlusconi's right-wing coalition to win control of the lower house, but failed to win a majority in the Senate—leaving Italy likely to face a hung parliament for the first time in its history, Reuters reports. Comedian-turned-politician Beppe Grillo's anti-establishment 5-Star Movement captured around a quarter of the vote, a stunning result that makes it the single largest party in the lower house.
Control of both houses is needed to form a stable government and although Bersani's coalition won the most seats in the Senate, it looks as if it will be unable to pass laws without the consent of Grillo's anti-EU, anti-austerity movement, der Spiegel reports. A Berlusconi-Grillo alliance is seen as highly unlikely. "Dialogue with Berlusconi? It is very difficult to imagine that Berlusconi would propose useful ideas," a 5-Star Movement candidate tells the AP. "It never happened until now, but miracles happen." Predictions of political chaos in the EU's third-largest economy led to steep drops in markets worldwide.