Berlusconi party scams figure in Italy election

Berlusconi party scams  figure in Italy election

“Recent episodes of corruption and the risk of unemployment keep voters away,” Nando Pagnoncelli of polling firm IPSOS said as polls opened across the country for the two-day vote.

More than 41 million people are eligible to vote for the governors of 13 of Italy’s 20 regions, as well as heads of four provinces and nearly 500 town halls. Voting ends at 3 pm local time (1400 GMT) on Monday.

Berlusconi denied any threat from junior coalition partner, the Northern League, which could gain ground in the north, but urged supporters to avoid the low turnout of this month’s French regional vote that was damaging for President Nicolas Sarkozy.
The 73-year-old premier added on the final day of campaigning on Friday that his nearly two-year-old government would not see major changes whatever the outcome of the vote.
“Every region we add will mean success. True victory would be having the majority of citizens under our administration,” said the centre-right leader, whose term is due to end in 2013.

Pollsters say rising unemployment is the top concern for 79 per cent of Italians and expect the ruling centre-right to retain control of the Lombardy and Veneto regions in the industrial north and win over Calabria and possibly Campania in the poorer south.
The centre left, ousted from power by Berlusconi in the 2008 national election, should hold on to at least five regions, four of them in its traditional central heartland — Emilia Romagna, Tuscany, Umbria, Marche — and Basilicata in the south.
Four other regions, including Piedmont and the Lazio region which contains Rome, are too close to call.

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