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Italians cast their votes in crucial election

SHOTLIST:RESTRICTION SUMMARY:ASSOCIATED PRESSRome - 25 September 20221. Hand pushing ballot into ballot boxHEADLINE: Italians cast their votes in crucial electionASSOCIATED PRESSMila - 25 September 20222. Polling station in MilanANNOTATION: Voters in Italy were voting Sunday in an election that polls say could result in Italy's first woman prime minister.ASSOCIATED PRESSAncona - 23 August 20223. Giorgia Meloni political rallyANNOTATION: The far-right Brothers of Italy party, led by Giorgia Meloni, had a strong lead in the polls going into the election.ASSOCIATED PRESSRome - 22 September 20224. Center-right coalition leaders on stage at final rally in RomeANNOTATION: Meloni has formed a center-right alliance with former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia's party and Matteo Salvini's League party.5. Final rally of center-right coalitionANNOTATION: The result could give Italy its first far-right government since World War II, led by a party with neo-fascist roots.ASSOCIATED PRESSAncona - 23 August 20226. Brothers of Italy rally in AnconaANNOTATION: Meloni has used the campaign stump to blast Europe while singing the praises of God, country, and family.ASSOCIATED PRESSRome - 22 September 20227. SOUNDBITE (Italian) Giorgia Meloni, Leader of Brothers of Italy party:"Those who dream of a proud Italy are not afraid. Those who want to be proud once more of their nation, of its people, of its flag."ASSOCIATED PRESSRome - 25 September 20228. Center-left leader Enrico Letta outside polling stationANNOTATION: The leader of Italy's center left, Enrico Letta, had difficulty pulling together a coalition.9. Letta waving as he enters polling stationANNOTATION: Letta was, nevertheless, optimistic as he went to vote Sunday.10. Ballots on table at polling station in RomeASSOCIATED PRESSMilan - 25 September 202211. Former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and his companion at polling station in MilanANNOTATION: Berlusconi, the 86-year-old three-time prime minister, was joined by his companion as he voted at a polling station in Milan.12. Matteo Salvini casting his ballot at polling station in MilanANNOTATION: Salvini, known for his tough anti-migrant stance when he served as interior minister, grinned from ear to ear as he voted.13. Woman sorting ballots14. Close of ballotsANNOTATION: Polls close at 11 p.m. local time, with projections and partial results expected early Monday morning.STORYLINE:Italians voted Sunday in an election that could move the country’s politics sharply toward the right during a critical time for Europe, with war in Ukraine fueling skyrocketing energy bills and testing the West's resolve to stand united against Russian aggression.Polls opened at 7 a.m. (0500GMT) and by noon turnout was equal to or slightly less than at the same time during Italy's last general election in 2018.The counting of paper ballots was expected to begin shortly after they close at 11 p.m. (2100 GMT), with projections based on partial results coming early Monday morning.Publication of opinion polls is banned in the two weeks leading up to the election, but polls before that showed far-right leader Giorgia Meloni and her Brothers of Italy party, with its neo-fascist roots, the most popular.That suggested Italians were poised to vote their first far-right government into power since World War II. Close behind was former Premier Enrico Letta and his center-left Democratic Party.“Today you can help write history,” Meloni tweeted Sunday morning.Letta, for his part, tweeted a photo of himself at the ballot box. “Have a good vote!” he wrote.Meloni is part of a right-wing alliance with anti-migrant League leader Matteo Salvini and Silvio Berlusconi, the three-time premier who heads the Forza Italia party he created three decades ago. Italy’s complex electoral law rewards campaign coalitions, meaning the Democrats are disadvantaged since they failed to secure a similarly broad alliance with left-leaning populists and centrists.If Meloni becomes premier, she will be the first woman in Italy to hold the office. But assembling a viable, ruling coalition could take weeks.Nearly 51 million Italians were eligible to vote. Pollsters, though, predicted turnout could be even lower than the record-setting low of 73% in the last general election in 2018.They say despite Europe’s many crises, many voters feel alienated from politics, since Italy has had three coalition governments since the last election - each led by someone who hadn’t run for office.===========================================================Clients are reminded: (i) to check the terms of their licence agreements for use of content outside news programming and that further advice and assistance can be obtained from the AP Archive on: Tel +44 (0) 20 7482 7482 Email: they should check with the applicable collecting society in their Territory regarding the clearance of any sound recording or performance included within the AP Television News service (iii) they have editorial responsibility for the use of all and any content included within the AP Television News service and for libel, privacy, compliance and third party rights applicable to their Territory.

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