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Berlusconi’s back? A key election in Sicily this weekend could boost the former Italian leader

  • The Sicily vote for a new governor is being seen as a dress rehearsal for a national election that is due to take place before June
  • The next government still has to fix a migration crisis, moribund growth and a high level of unemployment and public debt

Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio BerlusconiFranco Origlia | Getty Images

A regional election in Sicily over the weekend could lift the party of former Italian leader Silvio Berlusconi, as the country gears up for a national vote next year.

The Sicily vote for a new governor is being seen as a dress rehearsal for a national election that is due to take place before June. The most recent polls for Sicily show that the candidate supported by Berlusconi, Nello Musumeci, from the center-right Forza Italia party, was gathering most of the support. But he's closely followed by Giancarlo Cancelleri, from the anti-establishment M5S party.

"A strong result for M5S and the collective center-right will mean a shift towards more Eurosceptic rhetoric and (former Prime Minister Matteo) Renzi may be forced to adopt tougher talk with respect to EU policies in the national campaign," Peter Ceretti, Italy analyst at the Economist Intelligence Unit, told CNBC via email.

'Last important electoral test'

Renzi's center-left Partito Democratico (PD) is currently in power in Italy but its candidate in Sicily, Fabrizio Micari, is third in the polls, far behind his other two opponents. Wolfango Piccoli, co-president of Teneo Intelligence, believes that this contest for Sicily's governor and assembly is the "last important electoral test" ahead of next year's general elections.

"The center-right is seeking to regain control over Sicily — a region it has governed for most of the past 20 years," Piccoli said.

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