Centre left's Marino wins Rome mayor contest

Alemanno concedes defeat

Centre left's Marino wins Rome mayor contest

Rome, June 10 - Ignazio Marino registered a big win in the run-off of the contest to elect Rome's mayor on Monday in what looks set to be just one in a series of much-needed victories for Italy's divison-hit centre-left Democratic Party (PD). Incumbent Gianni Alemanno conceded defeat with Marino ahead with 63.9% of the votes after over two thirds of the papers had been counted. Alemanno, a member of ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right People of Freedom (PdL) party, had 36.1% of the votes. In the first round of voting two weeks ago, former agriculture minister Alemanno came around 10 points behind Marino, a surgeon who has an unorthodox style and prevailed despite not being a native of the capital. "I called Marino. I'll be totally fair on the institutional level, the result is clear," said Alemanno, whose popularity has been hit by probes into alleged corruption in recruitment for city agencies. "We will conduct serious, non-destructive opposition. We accept the defeat. Rome needs us". The PD, which appeared in danger of imploding after it failed to win February's general election, was also ahead in the in the 11 provincial capitals among the 67 cities that held run-offs on Sunday and Monday. The outcome should strengthen the position of the PD and Premier Enrico Letta within the alliance that is supporting the government. Berlusconi and the PdL have been emboldened by the PD's troubles and their rise to first place in the opinion polls and have made a series of demands about the policies that the unprecedented left-right government should adopt. The PD is the biggest group in parliament but it has been ravaged by internal divisions after former party secretary Pier Luigi Bersani squandered a big lead in the polls before February's election with a colourless campaign. This culminated with the PD coming first by a narrow margin in the vote and not having a working majority in parliament, which eventually forced it to form an seemingly unnatural alliance with their bitter rivals in the PdL. Beppe Grillo's anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, which captured around a quarter of the vote in the general election, was largely absent from the run-offs after suffering a big fall in support in the first round of voting The turnout for the run-offs, however, fell dramatically, which experts see as another sign the Italian public is extremely disillusioned with its political class. The interior ministry said less than half of eligible voters bothered to take part in the run-offs, 48.5%. This is down from 59.7% in the first round, which was already a big drop on the equivalent local elections in 2008.

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