Voting has begun in Italy’s regional elections, seen as a test of the support for the Prime Minister, two years before the end of his term.
Voters will choose governors in 13 of the country’s 20 regions.
Silvio Berlusconi’s centre-right looked set to win but analysts say recent scandals and administrative bungling may scupper its chances.
Berlusconi’s PDL party was dropped from the ballot in Lazio, of which Rome is a part, because officials did not register in time.
“It showed a lack of efficiency, that was supposed to be one of the centre-right’s strong points,” one man said. “I think they’ll lose votes over this.”
Opinion polls published before an election blackout two weeks ago showed the government’s approval rating had fallen to 39 per cent.
Pierluigi Bersani’s centre-left opposition, which now holds 11 of the regions, looks set to hold at least five of them.
The surveys indicated the centre-right would probably win Lombardy and Veneto in the north, and two others in the south.
Four regions-including Lazio are too close to call.
Voters go to polls in Italy's regional elections