Local elections today and tomorrow
Around 13 million Italians will vote in 1,177 towns and 9 provinces today and tomorrow in an election which Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has turned into a vote about himself.
Berlusconi has been involved in a number of scandals in recent times and is currently facing several court cases; his personal rating stands at around 31%, the lowest it has been.
The main contests are in four big cities. Milan, where Berlusconi started his political career and where his centre right People of Freedom Party (PDL) are looking shaky. If the mayoral contest goes to a second round on 29th May, which many are predicting, then this will be a major blow for the Prime Minister.
In Turin and Bologna the centre left are expected to hold on and even increase their representation.
In Naples the centre right could just take the city after much criticism of the current administration which has failed to solve a long running strike over collection of garbage. Berlusconi sent in troops to clean up the city this week.
Both centre right and centre left alliances are standing at around 40%. The Northern League, currently in alliance with the PDL has increased the number of candidates it is standing and will provide an interesting indicator of their support. Turnout is expected to be low with much disillusionment with politicians across Italy.