Berlusconi party loses key Sicily vote
PALERMO (AFP) - Italian ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom party (PDL) on Monday lost a key regional election in Sicily seen as a barometer for national polls due in April, handing victory to a centre-left anti-Mafia candidate.
With 75 per cent of votes counted, Rosario Crocetta of the Democratic Party (PD) was leading with 31 per cent, ahead of the PDL's Sebastiano Musumeci with 25 per cent, robbing him of what was once the centre-right's stronghold on the Mediterranean island.
The outsider, the anti-politics Five Star Movement, surprised observers by garnering 18 per cent amid rising sentiment against the established parties and anger over rampant corruption, particularly in the Mafia stronghold.
"It's the first time that a candidate for the left is elected as regional governor, it's the first time that an anti-Mafia candidate wins," declared a victorious Crocetta, 61, an openly gay anti-organised crime campaigner.