The Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's conservative coalition has suffered a huge defeat in the country's regional elections. The partial results suggest that the coalition has lost 11 of the 13 (out of the total 20) regions where elections were held.
"We have largely won, both in the number of votes and of regions," said the opposition leader Romano Prodi, who hopes to unseat Mr. Berlusconi in the Italian national elections, which will be held in 2006.
Blaming the bad economic situation in the country, Mr. Berlusconi said last week that he was not optimistic about the elections, but stated that he would not resign in the event of a poor outcome. Mr Berlusconi is expected to seek re-election next year by introducing income tax cuts, which has raised Commission concerns over Italy's budget deficit.