Italy goes to the polls on 3 and 4 April in local elections, and all the political parties will be looking closely at the results. Fourteen governors (regional presidents) will be chosen along with regional and provincial councillors. Voters will be asked to express a political preference for governors in Piemonte, Liguria, Emilia Romagna, Toscana, Lombardia, Veneto, Umbria, Lazio, Abruzzo, Campania, Basilicata, Puglia, Marche and Calabria.

Prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has so far abstained from putting his political weight and media empire behind his party's campaign but as surveys and pollsters become less and less favourable, he has decided to take part personally in various campaigns, even those of his coalition partners. He will be making appearances on television, radio broadcasts and at political rallies but has said that even if his majority coalition takes a beating he will see out his term as prime minister until 2006.