Rome - The leaders of two anti-establishment parties have each claimed they have the right to govern Italy, after voters in Europe's fourth-largest economy did not return a majority to any single party.
The Eurosceptic, populist Five Star Movement was the biggest single party with a third of the vote. But the anti-immigrant League also said it had been endorsed to run the country as part of a centre-right alliance.
Forming a government could take weeks of negotiation and coalition-building. An alliance between the far-right League and ex-Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia party is set to win the most seats in the lower house of parliament.
Both League leader Matteo Salvini, 44, and Five Star leader Luigi Di Maio, 31, on Monday spoke of their right to govern the country. Despite stating the contrary during the run up to the vote, Five Star has now announced it is open for coalition talks with other parties.
Results showed the League conquering broad swathes of Italy's north, while Five Star saw its strongest show of support in the south.
The ruling centre-left lost ground, with Matteo Renzi's Democratic Party 's failure to win a fifth of the votes described by the La Repubblica newspaper as a psychological blow.
The latest results are:
Five Star - 32.6%
Democratic Party- 18.7%
League - 17.4%
Forza Italia - 14%
Voter turnout was estimated at 73% on Monday morning, according to interior ministry figures. (FA)