Milan/Rome: (Left) Right-wing, anti-immigrant and eurosceptic Leagues leader Matteo Salvini gives the thumbs-up at the end of a press conference about the election results on Monday.
He said he would not step down until a government is formed, and that in the meantime his party would shun the coalition talks which will be necessary as no party or alliance got enough votes for a working majority. "Ungovernable Italy" headlined the La Stampa newspaper.
In absolute terms, the center-right coalition won the election with 37.5 percent of the vote as opposed to the 31.9 percent taken by the 5-Star Movement, which refused to enter a coalition with other parties.
German results were first out of the gate on Sunday, showing 66 percent of Social Democratic Party members supported the formation of a coalition government.
A rightist alliance including former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia emerged with the biggest bloc of votes, ahead of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, which saw its support soar to become the largest single party, according to projections based on early vote-counting.
Salvini said Monday the result indicates a center-right bloc will lead the next government and that his party had would lead the center-right, after eclipsing center-right ally partner Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia in the vote. While the League still says it wants to leave the single currency at the earliest feasible moment, the 5-Star says the time for quitting the euro has passed.
Echoing this view, Jonathan Fletcher, head of European equities at Brooks MacDonald, said M5S's strong performance had once again led to the re-emergence and impact of populist politics.
Di Maio spoke less than an hour after the head of the League made the same claim on the part of the center-right coalition, which collectively has more votes than the 5-Stars.
Di Maio said that "we are a political force that represents the entire nation".
"The success of the more rightist movements and parties is the effect of the growing preoccupation of a large section of voters on the excessive wave of immigration ... and on the economic crisis", he said.
Italy has a long history of finding a way out of political stalemates.
The role reversal marks a bitter personal defeat for the billionaire media magnate and his party, which took more moderate positions on the euro and immigration while the League campaigned on a fiercely anti-migrant ticket.
Italy's rightwing, anti-immigrant League party, on Monday hailed an unprecedented result scored in general elections held on Sunday.
As the results came in, French far-right leader Marine Le Pen celebrated, saying Europe was having a bad night. "Be prepared for long and complex negotiations", said Lorenzo Codogno, a former chief economist at the Italian Treasury. The League was hovering at 18% compared to pre-election polls of 14-15%. The difference this time is that in Italy's case the parties struggling to form a government are not the establishment but the rebels. British far-right, pro-Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage also congratulated the 5-Stars.
Founded by comedian Beppe Grillo, 5-Star has sought to allay fears in European Union capitals over its policies, dropping some of its more radical proposals, like leaving North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, and promising to be business-friendly if they win power.
"These election results, if they are confirmed, clearly changes the political scenario, creating a new situation posing problems for all the parties across the board", said Stefano Folli, political commentator at Rome daily La Repubblica. The gradual move toward pro-market policies in the euro zone will enable the region to better deal with the fallout from the expected departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union next March.
"No, no, no", Salvini said when asked about the possibility of governing with the 5-Stars.
Anti-establishment parties have been on the rise across Europe since the 2008 financial crisis, and Italy's economy remains 6 per cent smaller than a decade ago and unemployment is stuck at about 11 per cent.