Italy’s next election will take place on Sunday, March 4 when the fate of the country will be decided with the election of a new government and new prime minister.
Italy is not renowned for its political stability – having had more than 60 governments and numerous prime ministers since World War II.
Voters will elect 630 members of the Camera dei Deputati (lower chamber) and 315 of the Camera del Senato (the Senate/upper house).
Silvio Berlusconi has made a remarkable comeback this year for the Italian election 2018, leading the polls with his centre-right coalition as he pitted against the populist Five Star Movement and its leader Luigi Di Maio.
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The economy and immigration are the top issues of contention this year, following the 2015 migrant crisis that saw Italy become a spot for new arrivals form the Mediterranean.
Protests have broken out across Italy today on both sides of the political spectrum, as an anti-fascist group targeted Milan sparking clashes with police.
There is also uncertainty surrounding a new, untested electoral system and the possibility that a hung parliament could lead to lengthy coalition talks or even more elections.
Express.co.uk brings you a look at the latest polls and who could win the Italian election 2018.
Italian election 2018: Latest odds and polls
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The three main political heads to look out for are Silvio Berlusconi, former prime minister and head of Forza Italia, the embattled leader of the center-left Democratic Party (PD) and former prime minister Matteo Renzi, and Luigi Di Maio, the anti-establishment 5 Star Movement’s (M5S) leader.
Opinion polls leading up to the March 4 election indicated a hung parliament was highly likely, which is why parties have formed coalition alliances ahead of the vote.
Polling data has now been suspended ahead of next week’s vote – but an Index poll from February 2018 seems to show the clear winners this week.
Berlusconi’s centre-right party Forza Italia is currently in a pre-election coalition with the Northern League and the post-Facist Brothers of Italy (FDI).
This coalition has the best chance of forming a government with the Index poll suggesting the group could take 295 seats.
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The coalition partners have agreed that the party that gets the most votes will then get to choose the candidate for Prime Minister.
Out of the three parties, Forza Italia is currently in the lead in the polls but Berlusconi will not be allowed to take public office as he remains barred after a tax fraud conviction in 2013.
Lega Nord leader Matteo Salving could take the top job as the second biggest party in the coalition – but as they are far more right wing than Forza Italia, this could throw up a whole raft of other issues.
Other leaders in the coalition include Girogia Melon of Fratelli d’Italia (Brothers of Italy) and Raffaele Fitto of Noi con l’Italia (Us with Italy).
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Some suggest the election, which is trailing a new electoral system called Rosatellum for the first time, could result in a hung parliament.
If Berlusconi’s coalition can not get a majority, Italy will be left with a hung parliament and political deadlock.
And if this happens, the Democrat Party (PD) is likely to refuse to govern with the FDI and the Lega. This might eventually lead to a coalition between the FI and PD.
Peter Ceretti, Italy analyst at the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), said: “Our central forecast is that the election will lead to a hung parliament.
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“Assuming they win the election, the centre-right (that is, FI, the Lega and FDI) will get the first chance at forming a government.
“But if they do not have enough seats to do so, government formation talks would continue, and the president, who presides over the post-election negotiations, might press for a different formula.
“We do not believe that FI could do a deal with M5S, which seems unwilling to form an alliance with any established party.
“At the same time, the ideological gulf between the Lega and FDI on the one hand, and the PD on the other, is so great that they would be unable to govern together.
“That would leave the option of a grand coalition between FI and the PD, and perhaps some smaller centrist parties, provided that they make it into parliament.”
(Additional reporting by Maria Ortega)