ROME (Reuters) - Italy’s center-right parties performed strongly in mayoral elections on Sunday, according to exit polls, in results likely to put pressure on the center-left government ahead of national elections due in less than a year.
In the most closely watched contest, the northern port city of Genoa - a traditional left-wing stronghold - seemed set to pass to the center-right for the first time in more than 50 years.
The candidate backed by the anti-immigrant Northern League and Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party will get between 52 percent and 56 percent of the vote, compared with 44-48 percent for the candidate backed by the ruling Democratic Party.
Around 4.3 million people were eligible to vote in municipalities still up for grabs because no candidate won more than 50 percent in the June 11 first-round election.
The anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, which is Italy’s most popular party nationwide according to some opinion polls, performed very badly in the first round and only made the run-off in one of the 25 largest cities.
The exit polls on Sunday also put center-right candidates clearly ahead in the northern city of Verona and in Catanzaro in the south.
The central city of L’Aquila, where the center-left candidate had led after the first round, was too close to call.
First projections based on the actual vote count will be released at around 23:45 (5.45 p.m ET) and final results are expected to be known early on Monday.
Reporting By Gavin Jones, editing by Silvia Aloisi