Berlusconi set for a bruising


Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who had turned local elections into a personal referendum, appears to have been badly bruised in the two days of voting this week.

Voting, which took place on Sunday and Monday, appears to have resulted in widespread losses for Berlusconi’s People of Liberty Party (PDL) as well as their allies the Northern League. The centre right are reported to have lost control of at least 15 cities in the north.

Milan, the hometown of Berlusconi, his media empire and his football club AC Milan, is almost certain to go to a second round runoff on 29th/30th May. Early results were showing that the current PDL mayor, Letizia Moratti, was standing on 41.7% of the vote and her centre left opponent on 47.9%. A mayoral candidate has to have more than 50% of the vote to avoid a runoff.

During the campaign Berlusconi had spent a considerable amount of time campaigning for Moratti and the loss of Milan, which has been held by the PDL for nearly 15 years, will be a major blow.

In the local elections, where turnout was around 71% and up to 13 million Italians were entitled to vote, the centre left appear to have held on to Bologna and took Turin comfortably.

In Naples, where there have been long running strikes by garbage workers, the PDL failed to make a breakthrough and the city will be holding a runoff on 29th/30th May.

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