End of an era as Berlusconi party loses Italy vote


Silvio Berlusconi’s party has suffered sweeping losses in local elections while populist comedian Beppe Grillo made major gains as Italians voted against austerity and the establishment, analysts said. The preliminary results from the first round of partial local elections are already clear enough. Berlusconi’s People of Freedom party failed to reach the second round in several major towns and cities including Palermo in Sicily. “This failure represents the end of an era in which the right had Berlusconi as its chief and managed one way or another to win elections by imposing its vision of the world,” sociologist Antimo Farro told AFP. Berlusconi’s former ally in government, the anti-immigrant Northern League party, suffered a similar fate with losses in its northern strongholds. “This movement close to the ideas of (French National Front leader) Marine le Pen suffered a major defeat mainly because of the corruption scandals” in recent weeks over its use of public subsidies for the party, Farro said. The People of Freedom and the Northern League governed Italy between their election victory in April 2008 and November 2011 when a parliamentary revolt and a wave of panic on the financial markets ousted Berlusconi.