Italians head to the polls. Italy's next leader is expected to be Giorgia Meloni. Polls close at 11 pm.

If Giorgia Meloni's Brothers of Italy party wins, she will look to form a right-wing government for the first time since World War II.

Here's what you need to know about Italy's elections, its protagonists, how its new system works, and when to expect results.

Read this:Italy braces for potential far-right win.

Final Opinion Poll


Final Opinion Poll, 07 09 2022, Source: Ipsos/Courriere

Meloni’s Brothers of Italy (1st in polls) are aligned with the anti-immigrant League party (4th in polls), led by Matteo Salvini, and Forza Italia (5th in polls) led by former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.


Giorgia Meloni

Meloni started out as a teenage activist who praised Mussolini. She is expected to become Italy's first woman prime minister.

"I am Giorgia, I am a woman, I am a mother, I am Italian, I am Christian," she declared at a 2019 rally in Rome. The speech went viral after it was remixed into a dance music track.

Her party, Brothers of Italy, grew out of the country's post-fascist movement.

Her euroscepticism and her impact on Italy's enormous debt is causing concern in financial markets and in Brussels.

  • She wants to renegotiate Italy's EU Covid recovery plan and change how the President is elected. She campaigned against LGBT rights and for a naval blockade of Libya to curb illegal migration.

Read this:What is post-fascism and why Europe is worried


Enrico Letta

He was Italy’s Prime Minister for a little less than a year from April 2013.

He’s a pro-European, he headed the School of International Affairs at Sciences Po in Paris for 6 years from 2015.

He returned to Italy last year to take the helm of the Democratic Party.

He has emerged as the main rival to Giorgia Meloni.

  • He wants to stop the far right. He wants investment in renewable energy, changes in education and a minimum wage of €9. He also wants to make it easier for children of immigrants to obtain citizenship and to legalise gay marriage.

Read this:Letta is an ex-PM battling Italy's far-right


Silvio Berlusconi and Matteo Salvini

Ex-PM Silvio Berlusconi and Matteo Salvini were both part of the Draghi unity government. 

Silvio Berlusconi will turn 86 next week.

He’s a scandal-plagued former Prime Minister and a billionaire media mogul. He leads Forza Italia.

Read this:Berlusconi is an Italian ex-PM refusing to let go

Matteo Salvini was once the poster boy of Italy's far-right.

The popularity of Giorgia Meloni has reduced him to a junior partner in their coalition, he leads the League.

Read this:Italy's far-right rivals set for power

  • They want to cut sales tax on energy and other essential items, and to introduce a flat tax for the self-employed. They also want to end the country’s ban on nuclear power, increase the birth rate and combat illegal immigration.


Giuseppe Conte

He is also an ex-PM. His anti-establishment party won the last election with almost a third of the vote.

He helped take down Italy’s latest unity government, that he was a part of. Now they are polling at up to 14% and are not part of any alliance, as of yet.

He calls himself ‘the people’s lawyer’ and objected to sending weapons to Ukraine. He leads the Five Star Movement.

Read this:The uncharismatic but reassuring Conte

  • He wants similar things to Enrico Letta. Depending on the results of the elections, we may see the two working together. 


Matteo Renzi and Carlo Calenda

Matteo Renzi is yet another ex-PM and led Italia Viva. Carlo Calenda led Azione. 

They have joined forces and lead the Third Pole.

Their goal is to secure 10% or more of the vote and work with other parties to avoid a Meloni-led government. It looks unlikely.

  • They want to continue the pro-European policies of the Draghi unity government.


Volunteers prepare yellow ballot papers for the Senate vote at a polling station in Rome, on the eve of the country's legislative election. / © Andreas SOLARO / AFP

What happens after the vote?

Exit polls should come out tonight, but voting closes at 11 p.m. That means no official results are expected until tomorrow, Monday, September 26 – the earliest.

Even once the results are known, Italy may not have a new prime minister for weeks

When Will the New Prime Minister be confirmed?

Newly elected members of the Italian Parliament must first be confirmed. That’ll happen in October, in Rome.

They will then elect a speaker for the Senate and the Chamber, and party leaders.

Then the President, Sergio Mattarella, will consult with the speakers of both houses and the parties’ representatives about who to appoint as Prime Minister and invite to form a government.

Italy’s updated Election System

  • To win, an alliance will need a majority in both houses of parliament: the Chamber and the Senate.

  • The size of the Chamber has shrunk by a third.

  • 400 instead of up to 630 MPs.

  • 200 Senators instead of 315.

  • ≈ 36% of members are elected in a first-past-the-post vote (single-member constituencies)

  • The rest are elected by proportional representation (by party list)

  • Seats reserved for voters abroad.

  • Parties have to secure at least 3% of the vote to get in.

Christos Floros covers News and Politics for RTL Today @christosfloros