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Right-wing candidates set to make gains in local Italian elections: exit polls

ROME — Right-wing candidates look set to triumph in critical regional capitals across Italy after the country voted Sunday for mayors in almost 1,000 towns and cities.

The votes mark the last major litmus test before a national parliamentary election early next year, offering right-wing parties an opportunity to prove they can convert their lead in the polls into real votes. The right-wing coalition — made up of the center-right Forza Italia and the far-right League and Brothers of Italy — is supported by more than 40 percent of Italian voters, according to polls, and they are expected to form a government after next year’s vote.

On Sunday, 9 million Italians were eligible to vote in the local elections, with 26 provincial and regional capitals challenged. Candidates on the right looked on track to win in the first round in Genoa and Palermo, respectively Italy’s fifth and sixth largest cities, exit polls published Sunday suggested. The right-wing candidate in a third regional capital, L’Aquila, was also close to clinching a first-round win.

In two cities where the parties in the right-wing alliance failed to agree on a common candidate, Verona and Catanzaro, the coalition fared less well, but could still win in the second round of voting in two weeks. Wherever no candidate received at least 50 percent of the vote, a runoff will be held on June 26.

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