Rome, January 22 - The Italian government "will do everything possible" to enable Italians studying abroad under the European Erasmus university exchange programme to cast their vote in upcoming general elections, Interior Minister Annamaria Cancellieri said on Tuesday. The matter would be discussed at a cabinet meeting later in the day, she added. The statement came the day after the European Union said Erasmus students from Italy should not be discriminated against, with a spokesman for the EU Commissioner for Education and Culture Androulla Vassiliou saying he welcomed "all efforts to...find a solution" to helping the students cast long-distance ballots. Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi replied that his ministry intended to "coordinate closely with the interior ministry during Tuesday's cabinet meeting to evaluate how to assist students temporarily abroad to vote long-distance". Italians go to the polls on February 24 and 25 to elect their new parliament. A centre-left coalition led by the Democratic Party (PD) and its secretary Pier Luigi Bersani is currently leading the race, followed by a centre-right formation headed by ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi. The anti-establishment and populist Five Star Movement of comedian Beppe Grillo is also a serious contender in third place, trailed by a grouping of small centrist parties and movements led by the incumbent technocrat Premier Mario Monti.
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di Giovanni Pastore