Feb. 25 - Exit polls in Italy’s parliamentary elections Monday show the center-left coalition leading former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's center-right bloc. Mana Rabiee reports.
A bitter campaign ends, and a country waits as results come in. Exit polls in Italy's Parliamentary elections Monday showed the center-left coalition WELL ahead of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's center-right bloc. But final results in SENATE races hinge on key battleground regions, where the two coalitions are neck and neck. It was an election fought largely over the economy. Polls gave the center left, led by Pier Luigi Bersani, over a third of the vote in the House and Senate. That left some confident he can form a stable, pro-reform government. (SOUNDBITE) (Italian) VOTER, STEFANIA FIORENTINI, SAYING: "It cannot be worse than last time. I am hopeful, I hope Italians will now cast a sensible vote, at least for something new, at least for a change." Polls showed anti-establishment candidate Beppe Grillo in third place. But the biggest loser was the centrist coalition with less than 10 percent of votes -- led by outgoing Prime Minister Mario Monti whom critics said ran a lackluster campaign. Italy is the euro zone's third largest economy. The election was closely watched by financial markets anxious about a return to a debt crisis that shook the euro zone in 2011.