Berlusconi could lose control of Milan for first time in two decades
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Italians go to the polls on Monday in the second round of voting in partial elections which could see Prime Minister Berlusconi’s stronghold of Milan move to the left for the first time in 20 years.
Left-wing candidate Giuliano Pisapia says he is confident of winning Italy’s economic capital after taking 48 per cent of the vote in the first round earlier this month over 41.6 per cent for incumbent Letizia Moratti of Berlusconi’s People of Freedom party.
The city of Naples is seen as the other test for Berlusconi who is struggling to assert his authority amid a number of legal trials and accusations he had sex with an underage prostitute.
Right-wing entrepreneur Gianni Lettieri looks set to win the second ballot, but the centre-left candidate, ex-magistrate Luigi de Magistris, could benefit from votes transferred from the other candidate in the first round.
Ahead of Monday’s vote, Berlusconi tried to play down the impact of a double loss in Milan and Naples saying he could count on the support of his key ally, Northern League leader Umberto Bossi.
Pisapia's surprise first round win prompted a fightback this week by the centre-right with a warning by Berlusconi that Milan would become "an Islamic city" and "a gypsyville" under his leadership.
Pisapia has put forward plans for a new multicultural centre in the city and has called for Romas to be treated more humanely but says his words have been twisted beyond recognition by his opponents.
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