Italys opposition centre-left coalition scored an overwhelming victory in regional elections this Sunday and Monday. Initial fears that turnout would be low following the death of Pope John Paul II on Saturday proved unfounded; Sundays disappointing turnout was forgotten by Monday evening as Italian voters bounced back in numbers on the second day, with 77.7 per cent of registered voters taking part. The results are a slap in the face for the governing centre-right coalition of Premier Silvio Berlusconi. The opposition Ulivo, under coalition leader Romano Prodi, retained control of regions in its central-northern heartlands and made huge gains, most notably in Lazio, Piedmont and Apulia. If the opposition can maintain its cohesion, by no means a given in the world of Italian coalition politics, the 2006 general election could be a tough contest.
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