1. ITV Report

Italy swerves to the right as election delivers hung parliament

Populist and right-wing parties have emerged as the big winners of a general election in Italy that left no one group with enough support to govern alone.

Nearly half of all seats were won by right-wing MPs in a result that saw the two centrist parties which have dominated Italian politics for years pushed out by populist and Eurosceptic groups.

The centre-left coalition that has governed Italy since 2013 was swept out of power with just 23% of the vote, according to preliminary result.

A centre-right coalition including former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia party and the anti-immigrant League had the largest proportion of votes, with around 37% of the total.

But the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement was the biggest single party, with around 32%.

In another upset, the mainstream Forza Italia were beaten into third place by their anti-Europe allies in the League party.

Nuns line up to vote at a polling station in Rome. Credit: AP

League party leader Matteo Salvini proclaimed victory, saying the centre-right bloc had won the "right and the duty to govern", with Berlusconi's Forza Italia as a coalition partner.

The two men met Monday at Berlusconi's Milan residence to discuss a possible deal.

However, the 5-Stars's leader Luigi Di Maio also claimed they should be leading the country as the largest single party.

Meanwhile, the former Premier Matteo Renzi said he would resign as the leader of the Democratic Party after admitting they had suffered a "total defeat" at the polls.

He excluded the possibility of the Democrats joining any government led by the League or the 5-Stars.

Matteo Renzi admitted his centre-left Democratic Party had suffered a 'total defeat'. Credit: AP

Mr Salvini said he would be seeking out potential coalition allies, but ruled out working with his right-wing rivals in the 5-Stars.

"No, no, no," he said when asked about the possibility of the two parties joining forces in Government.

Political analyst Wolfango Piccoli said the centre-right is best positioned to form a government, expected to secure 250-260 seats in the 630-member lower house. Still it will fall short of the 316 needed to control a majority.

The 5-Stars are expected to get 230 seats.

If the two combined, they would have around 50% of parliamentary seats and a credible ruling majority.

Silvio Berlusconi has met with the League to discuss a possible deal. Credit: AP

The election campaign saw clashes between anti-fascist protesters and supporters of far-right parties.

Mr Salvini, who has never held public office in Italy, played on concerns over a huge number of migrants who have arrived in Italy in a refugee crisis.

He had vowed during the campaign to expel 150,000 migrants in his first year.

However, he claimed that much of his support was down to economic policies, including overturning pension reforms, introducing a flat tax and cutting bureaucracy.