The count is now underway in Italy’s local elections, which are being closely scrutinised for any signs that this may be the beginning of the end for Silvio Berlusconi’s government.
Exit polls suggest Milan will swing left after being in Berlusconi’s pocket for two decades, and the left will hold Naples.
Milan is the key. All the great social and political movements to have swept Italy in the last 150 years began in this industrial powerhouse.
Berlusconi, whose own career began here, has turned this local vote into a referendum on him and his government.
Add to this, his key coalition ally the Northern League’s increasing frustration that their rising fortunes are being dragged down by Berlusconi’s fading star, and we may have the recipe for a split and government collapse.