May 29, 2006

Italy vote ends, Milan hangs in balance -poll

ROME (Reuters) - Prime Minister Romano Prodi's centre-left
coalition may unexpectedly force a run-off election for mayor
of Milan, a centre-right stronghold, according to a poll
released on Monday after the two-day local elections vote.

The elections were seen as a first test of Prodi's support
since he narrowly swept to power in April general elections,
ousting Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right coalition after five
years of economic stagnation.

According to the Piepoli telephone poll of voters
commissioned by Sky Italia television, neither candidate in
Milan clearly won an absolute majority of votes in the first
round, held on Sunday and Monday.

The outcome of the vote in other regions appeared to follow

Prodi's candidate in Sicily, the sister of a murdered
anti-Mafia magistrate, looked set to lose the gubernatorial
election to centre-right incumbent Salvatore Cuffaro, according
to early results.

Rome's popular centre-left mayor Walter Veltroni was also
comfortably ahead in his bid for re-election, as was the
centre-left incumbent mayor of Turin, Sergio Chiamparino,
according to the Piepoli poll.

The centre-left candidate was also ahead in Naples, but
that race may also go to a second round of voting, which is due
to take place on June 11-12.