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Italy to hold regional elections
Updated: 2005-01-23 09:22

Italian regional elections will be held on April 3 and 4, local media reported here on Saturday.

Some 40 million Italians will be eligible to vote, with elections for the heads of 14 out of Italy's 20 regional governments.

Meanwhile, Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi on Saturday stressed his centre-right coalition was heading into the regional vote "united."

Berlusconi's four-way coalition was given a further boost on Friday when one of his key allies, populist Northern League leader Umberto Bossi, also renounced running alone in the regional elections.

Bossi, whose small party is pro-devolution, said during a blunt debate broadcast on radio that standing alone would be like " cutting off our own balls."

The 63-year-old devolutionist leader has just returned to the political fray after suffering heart failure and a stroke last March.

The Northern League scored 5 percent of votes in 2004 European elections.

The rightist National Alliance (AN), Berlusconi's biggest ally, hailed the Northern League's decision to stand under the coalition's banner.

"Nobody can remain with one foot inside (the alliance) and one foot outside. It's important to realise that we must stick together in the regions, the towns, the provinces and in the government," AN heavyweight Ignazio La Russa said.

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