The Italian spring is crowded with important elections. Once the general election results have finally been confirmed the senate and the chamber of deputies have to vote for a new president of the Italian republic. Two weeks later, on the 28 and 29 May, many Italians will be back at the polling booths, to elect 1,267 town and city councils, eight provincial governments and one regional government, Sicily. There will be run off elections on 11-12 June in races where no candidate wins more than 50 per cent of the first ballot.

Rome is one of the cities due to hold elections and the debate has started to decide who is going to stand in opposition to the incumbent mayor, Walter Veltroni. Politically of the centre-left, Veltroni intends to stand again and he is a very popular figure in the city.

So far the opposition political parties have put forward three serious candidates, Gianni Alemanno the minister for agriculture in the Berlusconi government, a very right-wing member of the right-wing Alleanza Nazionale, Mario Baccini another minister in the Berlusconi government and member of the more moderate Union of Christian Democrats and Alfredo Antoniozzi who is a Euro parliamentarian for the Forza Italia party. There are a four other right-wing candidates, including Alessandra Mussolini, grand-daughter of Benito Mussolini, but they are not thought to have much chance of winning the election.

Recent polls have shown that Veltroni is expected to win the election for city mayor with an overwhelming majority, but the almost certain defeat of the Casa delle Libert coalition in the recent general election has spurred the centre-right to put up more of a fight in Rome. This would mean fielding only one strong candidate, but for the moment none of the contenders seems willing to step down although the word is out that it may finally be Gianni Alemanno who will be chosen as the only Casa delle Libert candidate.