(Rome) Exit polls today in Italy's general elections predict a defeat for Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, with center-left leader Romano Prodi emerging as the country's next leader.
According to an exit poll by the Nexus research institute, Prodi's Union coalition should capture between 50 and 54 percent of the vote in both the lower and upper houses of the Italian parliament.
Prodi, 66, who is the former president of the European Commission, seemed confident when interviewed by reporters.
"I slept very well last night, and today it's sunny and people are voting calmly," he said on Sunday at a polling place in Bologna. "I hope everything goes as steadily and as serenely as possible."
Pollsters blamed the apparent defeat on Berlusconi himself.
"Berlusconi is the big loser in this election," said Maurizio Pessato, chief executive officer of polling company SWG Srl. "He pitted himself and his party against the entire opposition. He'll be isolated."
Berlusconi's bombastic, off-the-cuff remarks may have also worked against him, as evident by his statements last month that the Chinese government "boiled babies."