(Reuters) - Italians were voting on Sunday in an election that is forecast to return the country's most right-wing government since World War Two and usher in its first woman prime minister. Following is a description of Italy's complex election law, which favours parties able to create pre-election coalitions:
Some 36% of parliamentarians in both the upper and lower houses are elected on a first-past-the-post basis, with the rest chosen by pure proportional representation (PR) via party lists.
Parties can stand alone or as part of broader coalitions. Single parties need to win at least 3% of the vote to gain seats, while coalitions need to take 10%.
The latest electoral law, used for the first time in 2018, no longer gives an automatic majority to any party or group that wins more than 40% of the vote.
However, the most recent opinion polls suggested that a bloc of conservative parties, led by the far-right Brothers of Italy, looked likely to win a clear majority.
Voters will elect a drastically slimmed-down parliament that is likely to have a big impact on politics, potentially reducing the size of future majorities and making party loyalty amongst those elected much more important than before.
The number of seats in the lower house has been cut to 400 from 630, while the Senate goes to 200 seats from 315. In the lower house, 147 seats will be reserved for first-past-the-post winners and 245 will be reserved for the PR lists, while 8 will be allocated for overseas constituencies.
In the Senate, 74 seats will go to first-past-the-post winners, 122 will go to the PR lists, and 4 will be for the overseas vote.
Voters get two voting slips - one for the Senate and one for the lower house. They can only put one cross on each slip, with that vote counted for both the first-past-the-post and PR segments. Under previous electoral systems, voters were able to split their vote between individual candidates and the parties. Voters must be aged 18 or over. The previous 25-year age limit for the Senate vote has been dropped.
Candidates can put their name down for the first-past-the-post ballot in one constituency, and also be on five PR lists in locations of their choosing.
No more than 60% of the candidates on any of the lists can be of the same sex.
(Reporting by Crispian Balmer; Editing by Keith Weir)