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The Frontrunner: Pier Luigi Bersani

Democratic Party (center-left)

Market favorite, Pier-Luigi Bersani is the leader of the center-left Democratic Party, tipped to win the elections. The former communist is a pro-European, pro-reform candidate who has already served a stint as industry and transport minister in the 1990s.

Though Bersani is the front-runner in polls published before a polling blackout began on February 9, he lacks the charisma of Berlusconi and the populism of Beppe Grillo. He is not expected to garner enough votes to govern alone and analysts predict he will form an alliance with technocrat Mario Monti to gain a majority of seats in both the lower house and Senate –essential if a new government is to successfully pass legislation on economic reforms.

Alessia Pierdomenico | Bloomberg via Getty Images