Italy's election campaign reads much like a police blotter, chronicling a country whose politics lately have been increasingly nasty, divisive and even violent.
The national vote this Sunday to determine who'll govern Italy appears unlikely to bring much relief.
Prospects are high for weeks, even months, of more political tensions after the vote, with backroom party maneuvering quite possibly producing a crisis-prone, short-lived government with limited chances of making headway on Italy's economic and social issues. Some fear an even more dismal outcome.
Sunday's vote "will bring Italy in line with the worst tendencies in contemporary European politics," predicted Cornell University sociology professor Mabel Berezin, who studies populism and fascism in Europe.
Italy is also feeling the effects of its "legacy of fascism," which includes small political parties with neo-fascist roots in the decades following the demise of Benito Mussolini's dictatorship in World War II, the professor added.
The far-right Forza Nuova, whose leader unabashedly describes himself as fascist, is among the smaller parties running candidates.
If opinion polls prove accurate, voters won't reward any one party or coalition with enough votes to yield the parliamentary majority needed to sustain a viable government.
Italian law forbids publishing opinion poll results in the last 15 days before an election. Earlier polls pointed to a hung legislature, split into three political blocs, each purportedly distrustful of allying with opponents in a government coalition.
Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team