Italy: 1st polls since virus test government stability


Italy's government faces its first electoral test after the novel coronavirus outbreak, as around 17 million voters will head to the polls for regional elections on Sunday and Monday.

Even though the local ballot is unlikely to trigger a political crisis, the center-right opposition -- expected to do well in most of the voting regions -- could further weaken the fractious coalition headed by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.

The elections will be held in seven regions: Veneto, Valle d'Aosta, Liguria, Tuscany, Marche, Campania and Puglia.

Recent polls suggest the center-left government coalition -- formed by the Five-Star Movement, the Democratic Party (PD) and Italia Viva -- is set to lose in two to four regions.

While the results in the two biggest regions are quite predictable -- the center-left is likely to maintain its lead in Campania and the center-right to easily retain Veneto -- Tuscany remains the real game-changing region.

Tuscany is historically one of the left's strongholds, and a defeat there would put the PD's current management and its leader Nicola Zingaretti under scrutiny.

The outcome there will also be decisive for the far-rig