In an election that is being widely watched around Europe, Italians will decide whether to elect their most right-wing administration since World War Two.
Giorgia Meloni, the leader of the far-right Brothers of Italy party, is attempting to unite two other right-leaning parties to become the nation’s first female prime minister.
She dislikes being associated with Italy’s fascist past despite having softened her image.
Up to 23:00, nearly 51 million Italians may use their right to vote (21:00 GMT).
President Sergio Mattarella voted early in Palermo, the capital of Sicily, while Enrico Letta, the center-left leader, and Matteo Salvini, a supporter of Ms. Meloni’s far-right party, voted in Rome and Milan, respectively. There are 4.7 million foreign voters and 2.6 million first-time voters.
Giorgia Meloni has toned down her rhetoric towards Europe and supports Western sanctions against Russia.
She has spoken out against the “LGBT lobby” and called for a naval blockade of Libya to stop migration, but she still supports the old fascist slogan “God, fatherland, and family.”
In the town of Latina, an hour south of Rome, observers think the far right can wrest control of the city from the left. Latina, which was established in 1932 by the fascist leader Benito Mussolini, still carries the dictator’s imprint but has endured years of underfunding.
Although the town has recently had a left-wing mayor, the far right has Latina on its radar. Last week, Matteo Salvini visited this area to wrap up his League party’s election campaign. Her coalition includes the center-right Forza Italia led by former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, 85.
After the Covid-19 pandemic, Italy’s economy was beginning to recover, but the energy crisis—which was largely brought on by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine—caused prices to spike. Italians are most concerned about paying their bills, while politicians have recently been debating Russia and Europe.
The EU agreed to provide Italy with eye-watering grants and loans totaling €200 billion (£178 billion) as part of the post-Covid recovery effort, but only if Mario Draghi’s departing unity government accepts certain measures. Giorgia Meloni has urged a revision of the plan and stated that more needs to be done to “protect” Italy’s national interests within the EU.
The size of Italy’s two houses of parliament, the Chamber and the Senate, which are up for election, has been reduced by a third due to new regulations, leaving the Chamber with 400 seats and the Senate with 200.