Centre left consolidates strong showing with Sicilian result

Victory for PD in Catania, ahead in Messina, Siracusa, Ragusa

Centre left consolidates strong showing with Sicilian result

Rome, June 11 - The centre left has continued its strong showing in the first nationwide round of local elections since February's national vote with a good performance in Sicily, early results suggested on Tuesday. Candidates representing the centre-left Democratic Party, which has been hit by internal turmoil after it failed to win February's general election, took Rome and 10 other provincial capitals in run-off votes staged Sunday and Monday. The outcome gave the PD and 16-0 win over ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right alliance when one counts the victories centre-left candidates sealed in the first round last month by winning over 50% of the vote, making run-offs unnecessary in these cases. Sicily, meanwhile, held first-round votes for many town and city councils on Sunday and Monday, including provincial capitals Catania, Messina, Siracusa and Ragusa. Former PD Senator Enzo Bianco is the new mayor of Catania, after claiming just over 50% of the vote in the first round, while centre-right incumbent Raffaele Stancanelli had around 37%. The centre left's Felice Calabro also looked like he may prevail in the first round in Messina. He had 50.18% of the vote after over 80% of the papers had been counted, with Renato Accorinti, the head of a group opposed the hypothesis of building a bridge across the Strait of Messina to connect Sicily to the mainland, second with 23.74%. Centre-left candidates were also ahead in Siracusa and Ragusa, although both contests look set to go to run-offs. Premier Enrico Letta, a PD member who has been at the helm of an unprecedented left-right government since April, said Monday that the local election results had strengthened his administration. "It seems that overall this result reinforces the system of a broad coalition government," said Letta, who has repeatedly reiterated that his government was the only way out of two months of impasse following February's inconclusive vote. "That's how I read it. It's a result that spurs me and us to keep working". photo: Enzo Bianco

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