ROME: Italians are set to vote Sunday in regional elections seen as an important test for Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and for the fading Forza Italia party of Silvio Berlusconi.
Twenty million voters are to elect governors in seven of the country’s 20 regions, as well as the mayors of more than 1,000 municipalities.
This polling battle is the first in Italy, which is slowly emerging from recession, since European elections a year ago in which Renzi’s center-left Democratic party (PD) won with just over 40 percent of the vote.
Observers will also be looking closely at the battle on the right between the anti-immigration Northern League, led by rising star Matteo Salvini, and Forza Italia (Go Italy), the party of former prime minister Berlusconi.
A key test for the premier will come in the northern region of Liguria, where the PD’s candidate faces rivals in both a leftwing dissident and the rightwing Giovanni Toti, supported by both the Northern League and Forza Italia.
At present, five of the seven regions holding elections are governed by the left, one is led by the League and another by Forza Italia.