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Monday briefing: Populist parties surge in Italy election, but no overall majority creates political deadlock

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Anti-establishment, anti-immigrant sentiment has strong showing in Sunday's general election in Italy

Anna Freeman

05 Marzo 2018 12:35

Happy Monday, this is Anna getting you caught up on today's top stories.

Political deadlock - Italian votes have followed recent swings toward populist parties in Europe in this year’s general election, held yesterday. Early projections estimate 50% of voters casted their ballots for populist parties previously considered too fringe to grip power. No party secured an overall majority, however, therefore Italy will enter into political deadlock.

The anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) made large gains with 31% of the vote, while the outgoing center-left Democratic Party government, More Europe, only received 23.5% and will likely end up as the third-largest group in Parliament, behind M5S and the right-wing coalition, which includes League -- also known as the Northern League -- along with former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia and the neo-fascist Brothers of Italy. The coalition is likely to form the largest bloc in both houses of the country's parliament, with a combined share of 37% of overall voting.

Gender in the Vatican - Gender values within the Catholic church are being challenged at a conference in Rome on International Women’s Day as momentum grows for women to be given positions of authority in the church. The Voices of Faith gathering on Thursday will hear demands for greater steps towards gender equality within the male-dominated church.

Beetle’s decline - Nearly a fifth of Europe’s wood beetles are at risk of extinction due to a decline in ancient trees, which could have a terrible effect on other species as well. A study says 18% of saproxylic beetles – which depend on dead and decaying wood for some of their lifecycle – are now caught in a place between being ‘vulnerable’ and ‘critically endangered’.

Wonder drug - Ketamine may have a reputation of being a party drug, but it is increasingly being studied for its potential use as a treatment for depression. The compound can be a fast-acting, successful intervention for people dealing with depression and suicidal thoughts.

North Korean hospitality - North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is hosting a dinner for two South Korean delegates, the first time officials from Seoul have met the leader since 2011. The delegation is in Pyongyang for rare talks aimed at restarting dialogue between the North and the US. Relations between the Koreas have warmed following the Olympics.

Humanity in Syria - Aid lorries carrying needed humanitarian supplies are entering the rebel-held Syrian area of the Eastern Ghouta after days of government bombardment. The 46 trucks will be the first to reach the enclave since mid-February, despite a recent UN-backed ceasefire and short, daily truces ordered by Russia. At least 719 people have been killed, among them many children.

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