di Francesco Musolino
Rome, February 25 - Pier Luigi Bersani's centre left was ahead in exit polls for the Lower House after voting stations closed in Italy's general election on Monday, but ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's centre right alliance was projected to edge the Senate. The centre left was set to capture 34.5% of the vote for the House in a Tecne' poll for Sky Italia, compared to 29% for Silvio Berlusconi's centre right and 19% for comedian Beppe Grillo's anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S). Outgoing Premier Mario Monti's reform ticket, which is backed by centrist parties, had 9.5% in the same poll. The statistics agency said this would translate into a majority in the House for the centre left, which would have 340 seats. The centre right was set to win 140 seats, M5S 91, and Monti 46. But Berlusconi's coalition looks set to win the most votes in the Italian Senate, with projections giving the centre right 31% in the Upper House, compared to 29.5% for the centre left, 25.1% for the anti-establishment M5S and 9.6% for premier Mario Monti's ticket. It will be harder to land a majority in the Upper House as bonus seats for the winning alliance are handed out on a regional basis there, unlike in the Lower House, where the calculations are done on a national basis. A Piepoli poll for state broadcaster Rai also gave the centre left a lead in the House, although the figures were slightly different. It gave Bersani's alliance 35-37% in the House, Berlusconi's 29-31%, M5S 19-21% and Monti 8-10%. Grillo said via Twitter that "honesty will become fashionable" after the polls said M5S was set to perform strongly after tapping into public disenchantment with the established parties caused in part by a series of corruption scandals.