European stock markets panicked as results of last week’s Italian general election were announced.
A stalemate between the centre‑left and centre‑right blocks threatens instability—and a government that cannot implement austerity.
Silvio Berlusconi, the billionaire former prime minister, failed to get re-elected.
Mario Monti, the unelected technocrat who replaced him, came a distant fourth.
His year of cuts had made him popular with other European politicians, but not with Italy’s workers.
An alliance led by Labour-type social democrat Pier Bersani, scraped into the lead.
But it falls far short of a majority in the senate.
The only party with anything to celebrate was the left wing, anti-corruption, Five Star Movement.
Led by former comedian Beppe Grillo, this new party picked up a quarter of the votes.
This is more than any other single party.
A government had yet to be formed as Socialist Worker went to press.
But a minority government or a broad coalition would struggle to implement the stability and austerity the markets and European establishment are demanding.