European stocks plunge as Italian election shows no clear winner

<p>Europe’s stock indices have plunged as Italy faces a hung parliament.</p>

The uncertainty surrounding Italy's leadership elections has sent all the major European stock indices lower this morning (February 26th).

With 99.9 per cent of ballots accounted for, in the lower chamber of parliament the Democratic Party leader Pier Luigi Bersani and his centre-left coalition have come away with a very small victory, winning by 29.5 per cent compared to former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right party's 29.1 per cent.

But in the 305-seat Senate, preliminary results for the interior ministry show that the coalition led by Mr Berlusconi could win 110 seats to the left's 97 seats – again leading to no majority.

This leaves Italy with its first hung parliament since World War II.

Mr Bersani commented: "It is clear to everyone that this is a very delicate situation for the country."

At 08:45 GMT, the German Dax lost 1.8 per cent to an index value of 7632.6 points, while the French Cac 40 and Madrid Ibex both retreated by more than two per cent to 3636 points and 8013.9 points respectively.

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