Lo­cal polls of­fer prov­ing ground for Ital­ian par­ties

Viet Nam News - - World -

OM — Ital­ians be­gan vot­ing in lo­cal­elec­tion­syes­ter­daythatwill­test po­lit­i­cal par­ties three months from a gen­eral elec­tion that left no clear win­neran­da­mon­thafterthes­tartofa frag­ile coali­tion cabi­net.

The fo­cus is on the Ital­ian cap­i­tal Rome where in­cum­bent rightwing mayor Gianni Ale­manno is run­ning vir­tu­ally neck-and-neck in the most re­cent opin­ion polls with left­ist chal­lenger Ig­nazio Marino.

The polls are also a key bell­wether of sup­port for the anti-es­tab­lish­ment Five Star Move­ment, which won a quar­ter of the vote in national elec­tions but has ap­peared to lose ground since then.

Polling sta­tions will re-open to­day for a sec­ond day of vot­ing and close at 1300 GMT, with pre­limi- nary re­sults ex­pected later in the day.

Sec­ond-round run-off votes will be held on June 9-10, with most an­a­lysts pre­dict­ing the Rome may­oral race will not be won on the first round.

Ale­manno has come un­der fire in the Eter­nal City for traf­fic-clogged streets, a waste dis­posal cri­sis and a drop in tourist ar­rivals.

He has de­fended him­self say­ing he in­her­ited a debt-rid­dled city from left­ist may­ors be­fore him and point­ing to key projects he has backed.

Marino has promised to do more to im­prove pub­lic trans­port and to ease the so­cial cri­sis brought on by record-high un­em­ploy­ment lev­els in the city.

The­elec­tion­saf­fec­t564lo­calau­thor­i­ties, in­clud­ing the cities of An­cona, Bres­cia, Pisa and Siena many of them fac­ing sim­i­lar prob­lems brought on by a grind­ing re­ces­sion.

The cen­tre- left Demo­cratic Party nar­rowly came first in elec­tions in Fe­bru­ary against Sil­vio Ber­lus­coni’s cen­tre-right Peo­ple of Freedom party but failed to win a ma­jor­ity in par­lia­ment.

A two-month dead­lock en­sued which was only re­solved last month with the start of an un­prece­dented grand coali­tion govern­ment bring­ing the two par­ties and for­mer prime min­is­ter Mario Monti’s cen­trists to­gether in the cabi­net.

Some an­a­lysts pre­dict Ber­lus­coni could bring down the govern­ment within months, trig­ger­ing fresh elec­tions that polls in­di­cate his party would win. — A P

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