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10 April 2006

Fear and Loathing on the Italian Campaign Trail: Total Coverage of the Results

Tuesday, 14:45 (Italian time)
It's over! The Center-Left scores an amazing 5-1 victory on the Senate seats elected by Italians abroad. It therefore wins a 159-156 majority in the Senate.

03:17
Final results for the Chamber: Center-Left 49.80%, Center-Right 49.73%. Turnout is 83.6%. The Left wins 340 seats; the Right 277. The margin of victory is just 25,224 votes out of about 40 million cast. Here's a list of parties that will receive seats, as well as their vote shares:

CASA DELLE LIBERTA' (Right): FORZA ITALIA 23.71; ALLEANZA NAZIONALE 12.34; UDC 6.76; LEGA NORD 4.58.
UNIONE (Left): L'ULIVO 31.26; RIFONDAZIONE COMUNISTA 5.84; LA ROSA NEL PUGNO 2.6; COMUNISTI ITALIANI 2.32; ITALIA DEI VALORI 2.3; VERDI 2.05.

03:02
The Center-Right announces that a full, nationwide recount will be demanded. Where have I seen this before?

02:47
"Abbiamo vinto!" The Center-Left leaders come out to declare victory, claiming that the margin for the Chamber is now large enough. Oddly enough, Prodi is improvising the most incoherent of victory speeches. Hard to believe he didn't have one ready after waiting 12 hours for the results to be tallied.

02:39
Final Senate results: Right 50.2%, Left 49%. As anticipated, the Right has a 1 seat majority: 155-154. The 6 seats reserved for Italians abroad are still to be allocated.

02:28
The Chamber elections get closer by the minute. With 60792 precincts reporting out of 60828, the Left leads by 49.80-49.73%. The margin is now 26,000 votes. Other than Florida 2000, I've never seen anything like this.

01:35
Chamber of Deputies: With 550 precincts still out, the two coalitions are separated by less than 40,000 votes nationwide; the Left leads 49.82%-49.71%. Unbelievable.

01:32
Senate: My numbers indicate that the Right is ahead in the Senate by 255-254 seats. There are still 6 seats elected by Italians abroad to be assigned; nobody quite knows which direction they will go. Those are the only results still out. The Senate also has 7 lifetime appointees, who will in all likelihood be critical.

01:00
Romano Prodi comes out for the delayed victory speech but tells everyone to have more patience.

00:54
The Political Behavior Blog is now ready to call the regions of Campania (Center-Left) and Piedmont (Center-Right). Lazio probably goes Right too.

22:56
Fear and Loathing at the Northern League: the secessionist wing of the party occupies national headquarters. Federalists and separatists exchange insults and shoves. This is the most entertaining election ever held in Italy.

22:50
The latest projections for the Chamber of Deputies: Center-Right 49.8%-Center-Left 49.7%. That fraction is profoundly consequential because whoever gets the most votes wins 340 seats out of 630.
In the Senate, it remains too close to call. The result hinges on 3 regions: Piedmont, Lazio, and Campania. In each of these, official results have margins of less than 30,000 votes with about 90% of the precincts reporting.

21:41
Nobody seems to be able to make sense of what's going on. In the Senate, it looks like the Center-Left has more votes but less seats. In the Chamber, the difference between the two coalitions is about .4%. Prominent politicians are already talking about the possibility of holding new elections soon. Others sound open to jumping the fence; of course, in the interest of preserving the country's governability. What a mess...

20:42
New projections give the Center-Right ahead by 49.9-49.6 in the lower house. The Center-Right is now ahead by 7 seats in the Senate, too. Looks more and more confused by the second.

19:30
Romano Prodi cancels his victory speech in light of the latest results.

18:33
Do we have a tie? The Center-Left appears to have won a wide majority in the Chamber (thanks to the majority premium operating at the national level). In the Senate, however, their lead is only 7 seats. The difference is due to the fact 1) At the Senate, majority premiums are given at the regional level; 2) Some regions that exit polls gave to the Center-Left have either flipped or remain too close to call.

17:09
Turnout is projected to be an astounding 85%; about a 5% increase since 2001. The Center-Left is now projected to receive 340 lower house seats; 277 for the Center-Right. For the first time in the history of the country, the Left seems to have recived an absolute majority of the votes (52.2).

16:08
One thing that seems to be certain in that Berlusconi's Forza Italia took a big hit: exit polls give it 20-22.5%. If the results hold up, that's a loss of 8-10% compared to the 2001 elections. Some of these votes seem to have gone to coalition partner UDC (Union of Centrist Democrats), which might have received as much as 7% (doubling its 2001 votes), but the other parties in the Center-Right are very close to their 2001 vote shares.

15:47
The polls have closed 45 minutes ago; the first exit polls give the Center-Left 50-54%; the Center-Right 45-49. As usual, at this point this doesn't mean a thing.

Posted by Federico Ferrara at April 10, 2006 9:48 AM