Economy

Silvio Berlusconi's coalition set for victory in Sicily poll

Silvio Berlusconi's coalition set for victory in Sicily poll”

Italy's Silvio Berlusconi gestures during the television talk show "Porta a Porta" (Door to Door) in Rome, Italy, June 21, 2017.

The billionaire media tycoon was widely written off after being expelled from public office following a tax fraud conviction in 2013, but he returned to the political fray after open heart surgery previous year and campaigned actively in Sicily.

Italy's center-right coalition was projected to be narrowly winning regional elections in Sicily on Monday, in a vote seen as a crucial test ahead of the national vote.

Grazie, dal profondo del cuore, agli elettori siciliani, per aver accolto il mio appello.

"Sicily, just as I asked, has chosen the path of real, serious, constructive change, based on honesty, competence and experience", Berlusconi, 81, said in a video posted on Facebook.

The result puts Berlusconi back on the political map after years of sex scandals and graft allegations.

The center-left, led by Matteo Renzi's ruling Democratic Party, looked certain to finish a distant third after internal feuding wrecked its chances of retaining power on the Mediterranean island that it had governed since 2012.

After a raft of vote setbacks in recent years, Renzi has many critics inside the PD who may now try to mount a challenge to his leadership. "There are 72 sample points representing the whole of the Sicilian territory".

Mr Musumeci, a former Catania provincial president, has been backed by Mr Berlusconi's Forza Italia, the anti-EU Northern League and the right-wing Fratelli d'Italia party. The centre left's Fabrizio Micari was lagging on 18.5%. The turnout was 46.76%, meaning 2,179,474 of 4,661,111 people with the right to vote in the southern region did so between 8:00 and 22:00 on Sunday, compared to 2,203,165 votes in the regional elections five years ago.

With 37% of the vote counted early on Monday, centre-right candidate Nello Musumeci was leading with 38.9% of the vote ahead of Five-Star candidate Giancarlo Cancelleri who had 35.6% support.



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