Italy faces a prolonged period of political instability after voters delivered a hung parliament in the national elections on Sunday, spurning traditional parties and flocking to anti-establishment and far-right groups in record numbers.
Matteo Renzi, the head of Italy’s Democratic Party and former prime minister, resigned on Monday following the results, saying he believed the party should not make any post-election pacts with “extremist parties”.
On paper, the party projected to be the biggest in parliament, the Five Star Movement (M5S), appears measured and hardly radical.
The five core issues upon which it is founded – public water, sustainable transport, sustainable development, the right to internet access, and environmentalism – are laudable, and they made universal income and free nappies a key part of their electoral campaign.
So why is Nigel Farage, a divisive anti-establishment, anti-EU figure, so happy with their victory? And why do some people say the movement is Italy’s version of UKIP?
Farage has been a vocal supporter of Beppe Grillo, M5S’s founder, and in the European Parliament the two parties are united in their anti-establishment ethos, joining under the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy grouping.
After overcoming some funding-related niggles last year, Farage declared: