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Italy's rightwingers, populists claim victory; former PM resigns as party chief
Last Updated: 2018-03-06 08:02 | Xinhua
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Italy's former prime minister Matteo Renzi resigned as leader of the center-left Democratic Party on Monday after admitting to a "clear and marked defeat" in Sunday's national election.

"We were unable to stop the winds of extremism," Renzi told a televised press conference, adding that the Democratic Party will not negotiate with the winners and will therefore become an opposition party.

Meanwhile, Italy's far-right and populist forces vied for power after surging in the national vote, which delivered no clear winner but marked the defeat of the center-left Democratic Party of outgoing Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni.

At least 73 percent of Italy's 46.6 million voters turned out, according to the Interior Ministry.

The latest projections showed a center-right coalition led by media mogul SilvioBerlusconihovered at 37 percent in both houses of parliament. While the populist Five Star Movement stood at just over 32 percent and a center-left coalition led by the Democratic Party trailed at 23 percent.

Luigi di Maio, chief of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, said in televised comments that the Five Stars are open to talks "with all other parties" after admitting that while they have "tripled their seats" in parliament, they still don't have the numbers to form a government on their own.

Meanwhile anti-immigrant and euroskeptic League leader Matteo Salvini said in televised comments that "we will not participate in a mishmash government" and that his center-right coalition with Berlusconi's Forza Italia party has "the right" to form a government on its own.

Both forces have promised to reverse the current open-door immigration policy, roll back unpopular pension reforms, and introduce drastic tax cuts and generous welfare policies.

On the economic front, the spread between Italian and German 10-year bonds, a gauge of market confidence in the Italian economy and of Italy's borrowing costs, jumped 12 points to 143 before closing just over 136 points, up 5.83 percent, according to Il Sole 24 Ore business paper. The higher the spread, the lower the confidence of international markets and investors.

Standard & Poor's rating agency said in a statement the elections results "won't immediately impact" its Italy sovereign rating, Italian news agency ANSA reported.

Italians went to the polls Sunday to elect their representatives in the 315-member Senate and the 630-seat Lower House, after a campaign marred by political violence and resentment towards immigrants amid persistent unemployment of 11 percent and a sluggish economic recovery.

Last month, an Italian man linked to Salvini's League party opened fire on Africans in the city of Macerata, wounding six before he was captured, in what police said was a racially-motivated attack.

On Monday in Florence, an Italian man was arrested after he shot to death an African street vendor. In a separate incident, unknowns set fire to the door of a Muslim mosque in the northern city of Padova overnight, ANSA news agency reported Monday.

Over 180,000 migrants, mostly from Africa, entered Italy in 2016, compared to just under 120,000 entries in 2017 and around 5,300 so far in 2018, according to the latest data from Italy's Interior Ministry.

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