Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

WEB NEWS

Web users divided over Darren Wilson

Read more

ENCORE!

From Paris's Liberation to 'arresting' art in Avignon

Read more

INSIDE THE AMERICAS

Ferguson riots: Pressure mounts on Obama

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'The pen is mightier than the sword'

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'Requiem for a recorder'

Read more

DEBATE

Pakistan's Political Turmoil: Can Imran Khan's PTI Party Depose the Government?

Read more

DEBATE

Pakistan's Political Turmoil: Can Imran Khan's PTI Party Depose the Government? (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

Racism, riots and police violence: USA under scrutiny

Read more

FOCUS

Israel's minorities and military service

Read more

  • Special report: Supplying Ukraine’s soldiers on the front line

    Read more

  • US reaches historic $16bn settlement with Bank of America

    Read more

  • US forces tried to rescue slain reporter from IS captors

    Read more

  • Israeli air strike kills three top Hamas commanders

    Read more

  • Interactive: Relive the Liberation of Paris in WWII

    Read more

  • Former Irish PM Albert Reynolds dies at 81

    Read more

  • Former Femen activist detained after fighting veiled woman

    Read more

  • Tensions high in Yemen as Shiite rebel deadline looms

    Read more

  • Thailand coup leader Prayuth Chan-ocha voted prime minister

    Read more

  • Deadly street battles hit Ukrainian rebel stronghold

    Read more

  • French village rallies behind besieged elderly British couple

    Read more

  • Brazil’s Silva launches bid after Campos plane crash death

    Read more

  • Brutal IS beheading video sparks social media pushback

    Read more

  • Netanyahu compares Hamas to IS, Gaza offensive to continue

    Read more

  • France’s ex-PM Juppé sets up presidential clash with Sarkozy

    Read more

  • US attorney general visits Missouri town after fatal shooting

    Read more

Europe

Berlusconi faces tough test in regional elections

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-03-26

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi faces a tough test this weekend with Italy voting to elect regional governors. Berlusconi's popularity has been recently eroded by scandals and bureaucratic bungling.

Reuters - Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi faces regional elections this weekend with opinion polls suggesting his popularity has been eroded by scandals and by his coalition's bureaucratic bungling ahead of the vote.
 
Some 40 million voters will elect governors in 13 regions of which 11 are now controlled by the centre-left opposition, which has been in disarray since it was defeated by Berlusconi in the 2008 national election. Until a few weeks ago Berlusconi had looked set for another landslide victory, but a string of corruption probes and the
exclusion of his party from the March 28-29 ballot in the key Rome province may now have hurt his chances.
 
Concerns over the euro zone's third largest economy, reeling from its worst post-war recession, are also likely to weigh on the vote -- the last test at the ballot box for the 73-year-old conservative leader before his third term ends in 2013.
 
Pollsters say rising unemployment is the top concern for 79 percent of Italians now, compared with 47 percent in 2008.

Polls issued before a two-week publication ban came into force pointed to the centre right retaining control of Lombardy and Veneto regions in the north and winning over Calabria and possibly Campania in the south.
 
The centre left is seen holding 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 regions -- including Piedmont and the key Lazio region which contains Rome -- are too close to call.
 

BALANCE OF POWER
 

"These elections are very important to give a feel of the support Berlusconi has in the country, and the relative power of the different parties in his coalition," said James Walston, political science professor at the American University of Rome.
 
"The results will be more confused (than usual) because at least here in Rome we don't have the main government party running, so that will be a big excuse," he said.
 
Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PDL) party was left off the ballot sheet in the Rome province -- which has some 3.4 million voters -- after it failed to register in time.
 
Surveys published before the poll blackout indicated that this could tip the balance in favour of the centre left in Lazio, and weigh on the overall turnout.
 
An ISPO poll for Corriere della Sera daily said the government's approval rating had fallen to 39 percent while 17 percent of voters had decided not to vote or to change their vote as a result of the pre-election chaos.
 
After a turbulent 2009, Berlusconi's own popularity has been hurt in the past few months by a corruption scandal involving one of his top aides, and by an investigation into his alleged attempts to shut down TV talk shows critical of his government.
 
Analysts say that may alter the balance of power within his coalition, with the Northern League expected to win votes in the rich, industrial north at the expense of Berlusconi's own PDL.
 
The League is set to take the top job in Veneto, is neck-and-neck with the centre left in the race for Piedmont, and is expected do well in Lombardy.
 
A strong showing would increase its weight within the government, and in turn weaken Gianfranco Fini, the lower house speaker often tipped as a possible successor to Berlusconi. Fini, whose southern-based National Alliance merged with Berlusconi's party last year, has been increasingly critical of the government, and there is some speculation that he may decide to re-create his own political force.

Date created : 2010-03-26

COMMENT(S)