Victory for Romano Prodi was assured late on Sunday night in Italys primary elections to choose the leader of the Unione centre-left wing coalition. Parliamentary elections are due next spring and should the Unione coalition win, Prodi will be the next prime minister.

Turnout on Sunday 16 October exceeded all expectations. More than three million people voted, with queues forming early at the polling stations; voting papers ran out and had to be photocopied. Some polling booths stayed open until 23.30 instead of closing at 22.00, so that everyone could vote. When 60 per cent of the ballots had been counted, Prodi had received 74.5 per cent of the votes; his nearest rival, Fausto Bertinotti of the Rifondazione Communista party, came in with 14.6 per cent. Clemente Mastella of Udeur polled 4.4 per cent, Antonio di Pietro of Italia dei Valori 3.4 per cent , Pecoraro Scanio of the Green party 2.1 per cent and the two newcomers to Italian politics, Ivan Scalfarotto an independent candidate and Simona Panzino of the Senza Volto party, polled 0.6 per cent and 0.4 per cent of the votes respectively.