Monday, April 10, 2006

Che succede? Chi ha vinto?


Polls have just closed in Italy, and I'll blog on whatever happens in the next few hours. Italian exit polls are notoriously unreliable, so don't expect much of a clear picture to emerge just yet, or perhaps even for days.

UPDATE 2.21pm: A Nexus exit poll reported on Rai Tre (one of the few TV stations not owned by Berlusconi) has Prodi's Unione beating Berlusconi's CDL by between one and nine points. Not very revealing. They're not promising any projections this side of 5pm BST... (The poll's margin of error is 2 points, so it could even be a tie. Or it could be way, way off-target.)

UPDATE 2.33pm: Another poll, this time by Piepoli, shows Prodi winning 52% in the lower house and about the same percentage in the Senate. A more detailed Nexus poll is promised in the next fifteen minutes. The Piepoli poll shows Berlusconi's Forza Italia party, only one part of his coalition, has lost 8% off its support.

UPDATE 2.52pm: News via Bloomberg (inexplicably headed 'Germany') that there is another exit poll, conducted by IPR Marketing, which shows almost identical figures to the Nexus poll.

UPDATE 2.59pm: La Repubblica's handy table gives Prodi's Unione 340 seats in the lower house versus Berlusconi's CDL's 277, and gives the Unione a minimum of 159 seats in the Senate versus the CDL's maximum of 150. All this could be bollocks, of course, it's only an exit poll.

UPDATE 3.36pm: La Repubblica has refined its forecast to give the Unione 52.2% in the lower house and the CDL 47.1%. Forza Italia have already admitted defeat looks likely. Prodi has celebrated Blair-style by drinking coffee. No sign of that more detailed exit poll, but real results should start to come in very soon. Update to update: Senate results give the Unione a 10-point lead in that house, but it's early days. Italian votes tend to be very concentrated regionally, so calling it now would be like trying to predict a Labour victory on the basis of the results from Sunderland and Hamilton.

UPDATE 3.47pm: Jolly useful, these real-time updates from La Repubblica. The Senate results are being counted first, and Prodi's lead has dropped back to two points - but it's so early that these fluctuations are not surprising. Still, the Senate result should give a reasonable indication as to how things are going to go in general. There will be some Italians who have split their vote, voting Berlusconi in one house and Prodi in the other (just as some US states will vote Republican for President but cheerfully elect two Democratic senators), but they won't be in the majority.

UPDATE 3.57pm: That updated exit poll is available at last, and it alters absolutely nothing. Still showing Prodi with 50-54% and Berlusconi with 45-49%. Thanks, guys.

UPDATE 4.01pm: Prodi's lead in the Senate shoots up to a massive twelve points. Only 3% of the results are in, mind. This isn't going anywhere fast - time for a break.

UPDATE 4.40pm: Over 10% of the Senate votes have been counted, so this gives us a possible early indicator. Prodi has a 7.5 point lead in the Senate, although no seats have actually been declared yet. His lead in the lower house is massive, but hardly any votes have been counted yet. Still within the boundaries of the exit poll. That said, there are some regions where hardly any votes have been counted (eg Lombardia) and the votes from ex-pat Italians - who have been allowed to vote abroad for the first time, without being required to go back to Italy to do so - aren't in yet. An allocation of seats is kept back for the foreign votes, and it was the overseas votes in the Israeli election of 1996 which gave Netanyahu power when it looked like Peres had won a narrow victory. Not that I think we'll end up in that sort of situation here. As I write, the proportion of Senate votes counted rises to about 12% but Prodi's lead remains constant. We'll see how things develop. About two hours from now we should have a reasonable idea of how things are really going to go.

UPDATE 5.05pm: Nearly one-fifth of the votes counted and still no seats declared! Prodi's lead slips back to five points, but still consistently hovering over the 50% mark, below which it has never slipped. Nexus's latest projection gives Prodi 158 seats in the Senate (50.4%) and Berlusconi 151 (48.6%). The projection for the lower house remains vague, but unchanged from the original figures.

UPDATE 5.21pm: It occurs to me that, under PR, they won't declare seats until the share of the overall vote is known. Dur... Anyway, it means that the share-of-vote figures have genuine meaning. Berlusconi's share seems to be holding up extremely well only in certain areas, such as Lombardia, Veneto and Friuli - I guess the rich are voting for one of their own (the Northern League votes in these areas will obviously make a difference to his share as well). He's also polling well in the extreme South, where the Left is not traditionally strong. Prodi seems to be ahead everywhere else, particularly in Emilia-Romagna, Basilicata, Abruzzo and Toscana, in all of which he is currently polling at over 60%.

UPDATE 5.59pm: The latest exit poll refinement puts Prodi on 50% for the Senate and Berlusconi on 49%, so things are tightening up for the Professor. That said, he maintains his lead in the actual votes: 51.3% to 47.9%, with well over a third of the votes counted. Prodi's lead in the lower house continues to be much stronger, but counting has hardly begun.

Have to sign off for now, as the family are home and dinner is more important than international politics...

UPDATE 7.59pm: As always with these things, things don't look so good as the night wears on. The projection now shows Berlusconi with a majority of seats in both houses, despite being behind on the popular vote. With two-thirds of the Senate votes in, Prodi's lead has collapsed to 0.6% and his rating has dipped below 50%. Berlusconi is projected to get 157 Senate seats, to Prodi's 152; I don't know how they work that out. There are going to be a hell of a lot of red faces among the media and political classes tomorrow. Just like Kerry - ahead on the exit poll, but going down to defeat. Looks like Berlusconi may have the last laugh, after all. Sorry I couldn't bring you better news.

UPDATE 8.35pm: Berlusconi's victory looking more and more probable. It's Israel 1996 and USA 2004 all over again. Media backpedalling rapidly. Why can't they do exit polls properly? Why do they do them at all?

Fucking bollocks.


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