The spring election season is upon us. On 13 and 14 May there were local elections in Sicily and on 27 May a good portion of the rest of Italy will go to the polls to elect their municipal and provincial administrations. The results are unlikely to have any serious immediate consequences, but they will give the first real measure of how Italians feel about their politicians since the general election in April 2006. They are also the first of what promises to be a long drawn-out game of alliance and counter-alliance between the old parties and some new ones.

Just over 10.3 million Italians are voting in the local elections, a little less than a quarter of the electorate. The province of Ragusa went to the polls in Sicily, while Ancona, Como, Genoa, La Spezia, Varese, Vercelli and Vicenza will vote on the mainland; around 1,000 comuni are voting. These elections have given the parties their first chance to experiment with the new divisions and formations that have developed among the parties since last year.

In the centre-right the Casa delle Libert