Polling stations have reopened in Italy. Between seven o’clock and three this afternoon, Italians must decide the result of their general election. EuroNews will be following the events live throughout a day that could see the end of Silvio Berlusconi’s time as Prime Minister.
Sunday’s turnout was estimated at around 67 percent and the Italian right, behind in the opinion polls in the weeks ahead of the vote, may gain comfort from that. A high turnout is thought to favour Berlusconi, who was an early voter, along with his mother Rosa.
The 95-year-old was urged by her son to vote for Forza Italia, which is yet another gaffe of sorts as that, strictly speaking, broke Italian laws on campaigning. As he beamed for the cameras Berlusconi showed little signs of pessimism or impending defeat. Applauded as he left the polling station, the Prime Minister clearly still has his fans, and may yet confound the polls.
They say the opposition’s Romano Prodi holds a slight edge, and he is the only man to have ever defeated Berlusconi in an election, a decade ago. Later Prodi attended mass and spoke to journalists, carrying an olive branch for Palm Sunday. This is the emblem for his coalition, just one of the elements in a grouping that includes Communists to centrist Christian Democrats.
Shepherding this lot through the twists and turns of government will not be easy. But first they have to win. Some commentators have said this has been the roughest election in half a century and, with around two dozen parties to vote for, one of the most complicated.