Rome

M5S retains lead but loses ground, pollster says

Centre right and centre left both make gains

M5S retains lead but loses ground, pollster says

Rome, March 22 - The anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S) remains the biggest party in Italy but is losing ground to its centre-left and centre-right competitors, an opinion poll said Friday. The party founded by Genoa comedian Beppe Grillo lost 3.1% over the previous week to stand at 26.9%, followed closely by Pier Luigi Bersani's Democratic Party (PD) at 26.4% and ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PdL) party at 24.2%, according to pollster SWG. The PD and PdL saw their consensus grow by 1.3% and 0.9% respectively. The centrist formation Civic Choice led by outgoing technocrat Premier Mario Monti lost 0.4% to stand at 7.9%. M5S, Pd and PdL are contending the right to govern after inconclusive general elections at the end of February resulted in a hung parliament. President of the Republic Giorgio Napolitano was due to announce who would be tasked with forming an executive on Friday. Pundits say any government may be short-lived and Italy could go back to the polls within a year at the most. One scenario sees a reform to the much-criticised electoral law and Bersani's replacement at the PD helm by the younger, more media-savvy and centrist mayor of Florence, Matteo Renzi. Renzi is the leader Italians have most confidence in, the SWG poll found. He enjoyed an approval rating of 49% compared to Grillo's 36% and Bersani's 32%.

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