Berlusconi to lose key Milan vote
Silvio Berlusconi is facing a crucial test of his popularity in an election battle for Milan that critics claim could bring about the downfall of his government.
His party looks likely to lose control of the city -- where he was born and made his name -- for the first time in 20 years in the local election run-offs.
The voting, which was taking place yesterday and today, is being seen as a referendum on the prime minister's popularity in the wake of a series of sex scandals, corruption cases and a stagnant economy.
Nearly six million Italians are eligible to cast votes in almost 90 run-offs to elect mayors and other local representatives across Italy, but in political terms it is the contest in Milan that is crucial.
Mr Berlusconi faces a corruption hearing today, and a court hearing tomorrow, where he is accused of having sexual intercourse with an under-age prostitute.