Well it’s not official yet, but the first exit poll has Berlusconi trailing:
An exit poll Monday showed conservative Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi trailing center-left challenger Romano Prodi in parliamentary elections. The Nexus poll indicated that Prodi’s coalition received between 50 and 54 percent of the vote in both the upper and lower chambers of parliament, while Berlusconi’s coalition received 45-49 percent.
Obviously this is the ‘early days’ stage, and we shouldn’t jump to conclusions. I will be updating as the day (or night) wears on.
Update I: It’s looking firmer for Prodi. More exit polls are coming up with similar results. For example the Piepoli Institute’s exit polls for Sky TG24 have given the Prodi coalition 52 percent to 47 percent for Berlusconi’s centre-right and for both houses.
Update II. Tobias has now posted more extensively. First thing Tuesday morning the outcome is still in doubt, and those who were sceptical about the early exit polls were right to be so. Prodi is now claiming victory, but this is being challenged vigorously by the Berlusconi camp. The margin is wafer thin for the lower house (the Chamber of Deputies, or ‘Camera’), with Prodi’s having 49.80 per cent of the vote as compared to 49.73 per cent for Berlusconi’s House of Freedoms (a difference of a mere 25,000 votes). Naturally calls for a recount abound. The position of the Senate is still in doubt. There is currently a one seat difference between the camps (in favour of Berlusconi) but six more seats based on overseas votes are still to be allocated.
Wikipedia have a substantial entry on the elections themselves, and another on the Italian parliament, which may prove useful in understanding things if the final out come is ultimately a ‘hung’ parliament.