Feb. 25 - Italian comedian and blogger Beppe Grillo casts his vote in one of the closest and least predictable polls in years. Jessica Gray reports.
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Italian comedian and blogger Beppe Grillo casts his vote in his hometown of Genoa, Italy.
According to recent polls, his 5-Star Movement party could win 16 percent of the popular vote in elections that close today.
A political newcomer, Grillo's national campaign tour in a camper van channeled the frustration of everyday Italians tired of a failing economy, austerity measures and rampant corruption.
After voting, Grillo accused other politicians of "scheming", adding that Italy's economy is in ruins. The only way to get out of this mess is to start over and revolutionize politics.
The election is one of the most closely watched and unpredictable votes in years.
Voter surveys place Prime Minister Mario Monti's central-left coalition in the lead, with Silvio Berlusconi's right-leaning party close behind.
Many worry that a surge of protest votes could result in a new government unable to pull the country from its economic slump.
(SOUNDBITE) (Italian) VOTER, GIORGIA AGOSTINO, SAYING:
"I'm not hopeful. I don't feel represented by any party. I just tried to limit the damage."
The stakes are high, since Italy is the euro zone's third largest economy and a political stalemate could reawaken market instability.