Official polls have been blacked out for two weeks ahead of the election, but pollsters Reuters spoke with say there is a good chance that the far-right party known as the League could overtake the center right Forza Italia, the former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi. The two are part of an alliance of right-leaning groups and are expected to emerge as the largest faction when the dust settles.
But they've also agreed that the party amongst them that picks up the most seats in parliament will also pick the next prime minister. And that's not their only concern. On Thursday, officials from the alliance were caught on open microphones fretting over the advances of the anti-establishment 5-Star movement for whom Rome's mayor is a member.
5-Star last polled in the high 20s, but pollsters tell us they could well jump above 30%. That's still not high enough to rule on their own, but it is enough to provide a major headache for the right-wing groups as they try to form a new administration. One official caught in the open mike even stated that he hoped the Democrats of prime minster Paolo Gentiloni, who stand to be thumped this cycle, could hold their own in at least some regions just to keep 5-Star at bay.
Whoever comes out on top, it's clear who won't be prime minister. Berlusconi himself, not for a while at least. He's barred from office for another year as punishment for a tax fraud conviction.>>