Palermo

Centre-right receives drubbing in Sicily's elections

Voters disaffected, only 47% vote

Centre-right receives drubbing in Sicily's elections

Palermo, October 29 - Support for the centre-right in Sicily collapsed in regional elections on Sunday, while disgruntled voters largely failed to show at the polling stations, Monday's poll results showed. For almost 20 years, Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right People of Freedom (PdL) party topped the political heap in Sicily. In 2008, the PdL received 33.5% of the vote. But with the party wracked by scandal in Lazio and Lombardy, and Berlusconi gone from its helm and convicted of tax fraud Friday, the PdL took just 12% on Sunday, slipping to third place after comedian Beppe Grillo's Five Star Movement (M5S) and the centre-left Democratic Party (PD). Centre-left candidate Rosario Crocetta took the most votes with just 31% - not enough for a ruling majority. The centre-right's candidate, Nello Musumeci, had received roughly 23% of the votes counted by Monday evening - a far cry from 2008, when the centre-right candidate Raffaele Lombardo won with a landslide 66.6% of the vote. The elections were called in the region after governor Raffaele Lombardo quit in July following an indictment for colluding with the Mafia. Gianfranco Micciche' of the so-called Grande Sud (Great South) coalition came next, and Giancarlo Cancelleri, who is standing for the anti-establishment Five Star movement of comedian Beppe Grillo, was fourth. The elections are a big test of Italian public opinion ahead of general elections next year. But the real 'winner' of Sunday's vote was said to be the abstainers. Over half of Sicily's voters snubbed the elections for a new regional assembly and governor in what is being interpreted as a sign of the Italian public's disaffection with its political class. Just over 47% of the 2,203,885 eligible voters used the ballot box, compared to 66.68% in the 2008 elections in the region. A series of recent corruption scandals affecting parties on various parts of the political spectrum has reinforced skepticism about the world of politics among many Italians. Monti, who has been at the helm of an unelected government of non-political technocrats since the financial crisis forced Berlusconi to resign as premier last year, regularly scores much higher than the leaders of the main parties in approval polls even though he has pushed through a series of unpopular austerity measures.

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