Election posters line a sidewalk in Rome on Feb. 16, 2018. Italy heads to the polls to vote in crowded general elections on March 4. The shadow of ex-leader Silvio Berlusconi looms large, as do populist gains across Europe.
Italians are heading to the ballot box this weekend, but it's anyone's guess as to who will ultimately emerge as the victor. What is clear, however, is that the results on March 4 will be felt well beyond Italy's borders. A likely push by the next Italian government to cut taxes and to increase public spending could put the country on a collision course with EU institutions and could generate concerns in international markets about Italy's efforts to maintain a balanced budget and to reduce its staggering debt levels. No matter who is in charge -- and the prospect of drawn-out coalition negotiations suggests a new administration won't be in charge anytime soon -- any Italian government will have to deal with a weak economy and a heavy debt burden, as well as an electorate that is unhappy with politicians in Rome and Brussels....
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