Rome

Centre left leading in House, Senate races, says ministry

Bersani's alliance had 33% after a sixth of votes counted

Centre left leading in House, Senate races, says ministry

(updates previous) Rome, February 25 - Pier Luigi Bersani's centre-left alliance was ahead in the contests for Italy's Lower House and the Senate, the interior ministry said Monday, although the outcome of the election remained highly uncertain. Projections from several TV networks extrapolated official data said ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right was on course to edge the Upper House. The make-up of the Senate depends on the outcome of individual separate votes in Italy's regions, so it is possible for a coalition to win the most seats in it even if it loses the popular vote, if it carries some of the bigger regions, such as Lombardy, a key battleground. Furthermore, it is harder to land a majority in the Upper House as bonus seats for the winning alliance are handed out on a regional basis there, unlike in the Lower House, where the calculations are done on a national basis. The interior ministry said the centre-left alliance had 32.31% of the votes for the Italian Senate, after the ballot papers from over two-thirds of polling stations were counted, compared to 29.94% for the centre right. Comedian Beppe Grillo's anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) had 23.89% in the Upper House. Outgoing Premier Mario Monti's reform ticket, which is backed by centrist parties, had 9.18%. The ministry said the centre left had 31.62% in the House, with votes from over a third of the polling stations counted, compared to 27.02% for Berlusconi's alliance, 25.59% for M5S and 10.45% for Monti's ticket.

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