Italians have been enjoying a day of no campaigning before voting begins in Sunday and Monday’s general election.
Many say it has been the ugliest electoral battle in living memory and today’s pause was meant to give the country an opportunity for national reflection.
After trailing behind in the last polls published two weeks ago, incumbent Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is hoping to pull off a surprise victory.with a late promise of tax cuts.
But his hopes of making a comeback may have been hampered after he called leftist voters “arseholes” last week.
Even before that however the most recent surveys predicted a centre-left opposition victory with a 3 to 5 point advantage.
Whatever the result, analysts expect some acrimony. Berlusconi has already accused his rivals of being capable of rigging the vote. He even said that UN election monitors were needed to prevent fraud.
Italians in the streets of Rome seemed relieved that a long and tumultuous campaign was finally over.
“I am reflecting, I’ve still not decided who to vote for. I think both parties communicated things the wrong way,” said one voter.
“In the end it’s not so important but I think our electoral campaign was quite funny,” said another woman, who was not sure she was going to vote.