Italy faced political deadlock today after national elections failed to produce a clear winner.
Pier Luigi Bersani's centre-left coalition took the biggest share of the vote with just under 30 per cent and 340 seats in the 617-member Chamber of Deputies, while receiving nearly 32 per cent and 113 seats in the Senate of the same size.
Disgraced former prime minister and billionaire businessman Silvio Berlusconi narrowly lost out with just 124 seats in the chamber, as the electoral system gives an automatic working-majority to the plurality winner.
But his 116 seats in the Senate will seriously hit Mr Besani's ability to govern.
It means that protest vote-winner Beppe Grillo's Five Star Movement could hold significant power, as the comedian-turned-politician's party took the largest single share of the vote.
He is a largely unknown quantity but based his campaign on railing against the endemic corruption in Italian politics.
Outgoing unelected premier Mario Monti's coalition garnered 10.6 per cent and 45 seats in the Chamber of Deputies.
With Monti for Italy took 18 seats in the Senate while Civil Revolution - an alliance of left and communist parties - failed to gain any seats in either house, after a turnout of 75 per cent, the lowest in the post-war period.
Mr Berlusconi indicated today that he would consider going into a coalition with the centre left so that Italy did not remain ungoverned.
If the parties can't cobble together a government, new elections will have to be held.