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ITALIAN ELECTIONS

TIMELINE: What happens on election day and when do we get the results?

With only one day to go until Sunday’s general elections, we look at what happens on the big day.

A citizen watches a polling station officer casting his ballot on March 4, 2018 at a poll in Milan, Italy.
Polls across the country will be open from 7am to 11pm on Sunday, September 25th. Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP

7am: Polls open. Barring those residing abroad, voters can only cast their ballot in the municipality (comune) in which they are legally registered to vote and at the specific polling station assigned to them. 

Voters will need to turn up at their polling station with a valid identity document and their tessera elettorale (voting card). 

READ ALSO: Italian ballot papers: What they look like and how to vote

Also, mobile phones cannot be taken into the voting booths and need to be left with the polling station staff.

11pm: Polls close and counting starts immediately after. 

Ballot papers for the election of the Senate are counted first. Counting agents turn to the Chamber of Deputies’ ballots only after the first procedure has been completed.

11.30pm: The first exit polls from the country’s leading news media should be out by now. Though generally fairly accurate, polls should not be relied upon blindly – see the 2013 exit poll debacle, for example.

A man votes at a polling station in central Rome.

Voters are required to turn up at their local polling station with a valid ID and their own voting card (‘tessera elettorale’). Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP

READ ALSO: Italy’s right confident of election win at last rallies before vote

2am-3am (Monday, September 26th): This is generally when the first official projections based on data from polling stations start coming in. These protections are of course usually much more reliable than the exit polls.

8am onwards: Barring a neck and neck contest, a fairly accurate overview of the election’s results should be available by Monday morning. 

Naturally, much depends also on the total number of ballots to be counted. 

In 2018, Italy recorded its worst-ever election turnout, with only 73 percent of Italians choosing to cast their vote. 

READ ALSO: INTERVIEW: What’s behind the decline in Italian voter turnout?

According to recent polls, abstentionism might be even worse this time around, with as many as 16 million Italians expected to refrain from voting – Italy has a voting population of just over 46.5 million.

A policeman stands outside a polling station in central Rome.

According to the latest available polls, as many as 16 million Italians might abstain from voting on Sunday. Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP

While being a serious concern for the country’s democracy, a low turnout would make things easier for counting agents and would likely bring the announcement of results forward.

The winners of Sunday’s elections will be known and declared by Monday evening at the latest, though official counting operations, including any potential recounts, will only end towards the end of the week.

The coming weeks: Once counting is complete, the new parliament is formed, with lower and upper house seats allocated through a blend of proportional and first-past-the-post system.

READ ALSO: Your ultimate guide to Italy’s crucial elections on Sunday

The new parliament will convene on October 13th. After that date, President Sergio Mattarella will start consultations with party leaders to discuss the formation of the new government.

It’ll take at least 25 days for the new government to take up office, though it can also take significantly longer – in 2018, the first Conte cabinet only assumed its powers 88 days (almost three months) after the elections.

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POLITICS

Italy’s government to continue sending weapons to Ukraine in 2023

Italy's new government issued a decree on Thursday to continue sending weapons to Ukraine through 2023, continuing the previous administration's policy of support to Kyiv.

Italy's government to continue sending weapons to Ukraine in 2023

The decree extends to December 31, 2023 an existing authorisation for “the transfer of military means, materials and equipment to the government authorities of Ukraine,” according to a government statement.

Since taking office in October, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has repeatedly voiced her support for Kyiv while underlying the importance of the Atlantic alliance.

In her first speech to parliament, the leader of the Brothers of Italy party pledged to “continue to be a reliable partner of NATO in supporting Ukraine.”

Her predecessor Mario Draghi was a staunch supporter of Kyiv, but the issue of sending arms to Ukraine split the biggest party in parliament during his coalition government, the Five Star Movement.

That friction led to the early elections that brought Meloni to power.

Parliament now has 60 days to vote the decree into law.

READ ALSO: Outcry in Italy after Berlusconi defends Putin’s invasion of Ukraine

Despite Meloni’s efforts to reassure her Western allies of Italy’s support for the EU’s and NATO’s Ukraine strategy, including sanctions on Russia, the close ties to Russia of her two coalition partners have come under scrutiny.

Both Matteo Salvini of the League party and former premier Silvio Berlusconi, who leads Forza Italia, have long enjoyed warm relations with Russia.

In October, an audio tape of Berlusconi was leaked to the media in which the former premier described how he had received a birthday present of vodka from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In the tape, he also expressed concerns about sending weapons and cash to Kyiv and appeared to blame the war on Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky.

Berlusconi later issued a statement saying his personal position on Ukraine “does not deviate” from that of Italy and the EU.

Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, Salvini, too, has come under fire for his relations with Moscow, including a report that he dined with Russia’s ambassador to Rome just days after that country’s invasion of Ukraine.

Salvini, who has criticised EU sanctions as ineffective, has long admired Putin, even wearing T-shirts emblazoned with the Russian leader’s face.

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