City and provincial elections are supposed to be about street lighting, potholes and rubbish collection but they rarely are. They are always a thermometer for the national temperature and sometimes a lot more.

On 15 and 16 May, Italians will vote for 11 provincial and more than 1,300 town councils. In the contests where no candidate gets 50 per cent of the vote plus one there will be a run-off on 29 and 30 May. As part of a government economy drive, the number of councillors to be elected has been reduced from 60 to 48 in cities with more than a million inhabitants.

The overall figures will be analysed with a soothsayer