Italy's ruling League tops EU vote as 5-Star loses ground: exit polls

ROME (Reuters) – The far-right League emerged as Italy’s largest party in Sunday’s European parliamentary election, overtaking its coalition partner the 5-Star Movement, which lost a third of its voters in a year, exit polls said.

If confirmed, such a result could alter the balance of power within the argument-plagued government, giving greater authority to League leader Matteo Salvini, who is pushing for swingeing tax cuts in possible defiance of EU budget rules.

Polls predicted the League took between 26.0-31.0 percent of the vote, up from some 17 percent at the 2018 national election and 6.2 percent at the last EU ballot in 2014, with its uncompromising anti-immigrant message boosting its support.

However, earlier this year it had been polling as high as 37 percent, suggesting its momentum had ground to a halt following months of surging popularity.

The 5-Star, led by another deputy prime minister, Luigi Di Maio, took between 18.5-23.0 percent, according to polling on four different television stations, compared with 32 percent last year and 21.1 percent five years ago.

The same polls suggested 5-Star had been overtaken on Sunday by the opposition center-left Democratic Party (PD), which was seen winning between 20.5-25.0 percent from 18.7 percent in 2018 and 40.8 percent in 2014.

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