The markets across Europe have taken sharp falls following the announcement of inital results from the Italian election. The incredible Senor Silvio Berlusconi has come back from allegations of impropriety that would surely have finished him off in almost any other democracy. The Left have appointed a former communist in Bersani and then there is the new protest party of Bepe Grillo - none of them have enough of the votes to be in Government or lead a majority Government. Mario Monti's centrist party got just 10%.
What this tells me is that Italians are deeply frustrated with their politicians, not that surprising perhaps. The Austerity of Mario Monti has proven even more unpopular, hence his terrible electoral performance.
So what next for Italy - who knows, perhaps t'was always thus for them.
The interesting piece to me though is the power of the promise of free stuff has made such an impact. Berlusconi with his tax cuts, Grillo with his greenery. This is allied with a powerful rejection of austerity as a political or economic solution.
In many ways the UK is in the same boat as italy, public spending is considerably in excess of revenues and taxes are already high. There is not much real choice but austerity in the long-term, the only argument really is about how quickly or slowly to do the deed.
But politicians in Italy are deluding the public that there is some kind of choice, and winning. The Labour party here skims around the concept of no austerity, but frequently Milliband pulls back and says at least some of the cuts must stay. The real Italian like threat comes perhaps from UKIP - a party able to make promises and with no history of breaking these to ruin, nor experience of the electorate to know not to tust them. Perhaps too the desperate Lib Dems may start to take highly populist lines pre-election in a desperate attempt to save their seats - this will be less credible given their poor track record in Government.
Also the UK has been drifting to a more multi-party state for a long time now, SNP, Plaid Cymru both of these parties plus the Northern Irish ones have plenty of seats, even the Greens got a seat.
With hatred of Labour for wrecking the economy in 2008 and the Tories for the austerity since, could an Italian style political situation yet develop in the UK?