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Rome's mayor election heads for run-off

By Marzia De Giuli (Xinhua)

16:28, May 28, 2013

ROME, May 27 (Xinhua) -- The center-left candidate is leading Italy's local elections, projections and partial vote counting showed Monday, but Rome's mayoral race is likely to head for a second round.

Ignazio Marino of the center-left Democratic Party (PD) would get between 40 and 43 percent of the vote, while his center-right rival, incumbent Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno of Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PdL) party, came in second with about 29 percent of the vote, according to projections based on early results.

Beppe Grillo's anti-establishment 5-Star Movement(M5S), which stormed into parliament by winning a quarter of the national vote in February, suffered a clamorous setback, winning only 13 percent of the vote.

A second round run-off would be held on June 9-10, if the projections are confirmed by final results.

"The left is claiming victory, but the run-off is a whole new game," Alemanno told a news conference. Marino said, "The vote shows the need and desire for change."

A significant number of eligible Italian voters abstained from the voting, as overall voter turnout was around 62.3 percent, down almost 15 percentage points from 2008.

Voter turnout was especially low in Rome, down nearly 21 percent from 2008.

Aldo Cazzullo, a columnist for the Corriere della Sera daily, said the much lower turnout reflected a "shocking discrediting of the parties."

"The PD and PdL presently are weak forces that cannot count their chickens before they have hatched," said Cazzullo.

"But undoubtedly, they are trying to govern the country and electors have rewarded them with a certain confidence," he added.

According to Elisabetta Gualmini, politics professor at the University of Bologna and a close observer of Grillo's movement, there was a clear connection between high abstentions and the M5S setback.

After the M5S triumphant performance in the national election, its supporters believed the Internet-based movement could clean up corruption-plagued politics and give ordinary people more say in decision-making, Gualmini said.

However, the M5S was lacking a structured program to win over voters,especially at the local level. Its candidates, who obey the movement rule not to appear on television with rival politicians from the traditional parties, ended to be "complete strangers," Gualmini said.

As a result, deluded citizens struggling with a deepening economic and social crisis either did not cast their votes or returned to the main two parties, said the professor.

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