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The BBC's David Willey
"There has been a relatively small overall swing from left to right"
 real 28k

Monday, 28 May, 2001, 09:27 GMT 10:27 UK
Centre-left takes Italian cities
Rome's outgoing mayor, Francesco Rutelli, with Walter Veltroni (right)
Rome's outgoing mayor campaigned for Mr Veltroni
Italy's centre-left Olive Tree alliance has proven it is still a political force by winning mayoral elections in three of the country's most important cities.

Rome, Naples and Turin all elected left-wing mayors in run-off elections on Sunday, two weeks after Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right swept to power in parliamentary elections.

The results are being seen as a defeat for Mr Berlusconi, who has campaigned against "those on the left who describe themselves today as liberals" since being elected on 13 May.

Italian results
Rome: Walter Veltroni defeats Antonio Tajani
Naples: Rosa Russo Jervolino defeats Antonio Marcusciello
Turin: Sergio Chiamparino defeats Roberto Rossi
Walter Veltroni, who was elected mayor of Rome, said the results showed that the Olive Tree alliance has "strong symbolic value".

Mr Veltroni, of the formerly communist Left-wing Democrats, defeated Antonio Tajani, a former spokesman for Mr Berlusconi.

Mr Veltroni, 45, has announced that he will quit his position as number two in the party.

First woman

Former Interior Minister Rosa Russo Jervolino became the first woman mayor of Naples by beating Antonio Marcusciello, a former advertising manager in Mr Berlusconi's media empire.

Italian Prime Minister-elect Silvio Berlusconi
The results are not good news for Mr Berlusconi
The former Christian Democrat encouraged voters to come out to celebrate her victory in the city's main square.

The left also took the northern industrial city of Turin, where Sergio Chiamparino edged out Roberto Rossi after a photo finish in the first round two weeks ago.

The Olive Tree alliance has held all three cities since the direct election of mayors was instituted in 1993.

Italy's financial centre, Milan, went to a right-wing candidate in the first round of voting.

Just over 70% of the 6 million eligible voters turned out on Sunday, down from nearly 80% in the first round.

A total of 77 cities and provinces held a second round of voting on Sunday.

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24 May 01 | Europe
Berlusconi rejects criticism
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