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Opposition hopes to halt Berlusconi juggernaut in local polls

Latest update : 2009-06-22

Italy's left-wing opposition bid to hold on to its remaining strongholds in the second round of partial local elections Monday. Meanwhile, a referendum on raising the power of major parties failed after a mere 20% of voters bothered to turn out.

AFP - Low voter turnout has scuppered a referendum designed to raise the power of Italy's major political parties, Italian media reported Monday, citing preliminary figures released after polls closed.
  
"No quorum, referendum fails," was the headline on the website of the Corriere della Sera, Italy's main daily newspaper, as turnout was nowhere near the 50 percent threshold of voters needed to decide on the measure.
  
The referendum had proposed rising the entry criteria for parliament, obligin parties to win at least four percent of ballots to win seats in the lower chamber and at least eight percent for the Senate.
  
After polls closed at 3:00 pm (1300 GMT) Monday on the second day of voting, the Italian interior ministry said voter turnout was between 20.1 percent and 20.4 percent based on about 7,500 of the country's 8,100 polling stations.
  
Italians also voted in the second round of partial local elections with the left hoping to keep control of its strongholds in Milan, Bologna, Florence and Bari.
  
The opposition has struggled since conservative Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi returned to power in the April 2008 legislative election.
  
Despite scandals plaguing Berlusconi, the prime minister's People of Freedom (PDL) party finished first in the European elections earlier this month, although its 35 percent score was five points short of his predictions.
  
Berlusconi has been fighting off a slew of scandals since his wife's highly-publicised decision to divorce him last month, including his links to an aspiring teenage model and suggestive pictures taken at his Sardinia villa.
  

Date created : 2009-06-22

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