Mayors heading centre left-coalitions have easily won re-election in Rome, Turin and Naples confirming the swing to the left of the general elections in April. The popular mayor of Rome, Walter Veltroni, has been returned with a resounding majority of 60 per cent of the vote. In Turin, Sergio Chiamparino has won against Rocco Buttiglione, one-time minister in the centre-right government of Silvio Berlusconi, and in Naples Rosa Jervolino has managed to hang on to a city that is more difficult than most to govern.

Even in the provincial elections in Sicily the centre-right majority has been reduced. The centre-right candidate, Salvatore Cuffaro, has been returned to head the provincial government with just over 52 per cent of the vote, compared with over 60 per cent in 2001. The determined and combative candidate of the centre-left coalition, Rita Borsellino, sister of the judge, Paolo Borsellino, who was assassinated by the mafia in the 1992, was not expected to get even 30 per cent of the vote a couple of months ago, but she clocked up nearly 42 per cent.

With over half the polling sections counted the only major city that looked as though it would go to the centre-right was Milano where Letizia Moratti, ex minister of education in Berlusconis government was winning over the centre-left candidate Bruno Ferrante.

Voter turnout for these local elections has been lower than in 2001, but this was to be expected considering that parliamentary elections were held only six weeks ago and there will be a referendum on constitutional reform at the end of June.