The enduring mystery of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's popularity remained intact on Tuesday after he won a convincing victory in regional polls held on Sunday and Monday. The poll was seen as a test of his popularity and opinion surveys had suggested the Premier could suffer severe reverses of fortune.

Mr. Berlusconi again turned the tables on his critics and detractors — winning crucial races and wresting the control of four regions from the opposition. The Northern League, an anti-immigration party and government ally, also fared very strongly, and will likely see its national influence significantly increase.

Overall, the conservatives won six regions, compared with the two they held before the election, while the centre-left opposition held on to seven.

Mr. Berlusconi's most stunning successes were in the Lazio region which includes Rome, and the region of Piedmont in the heavily industrial north of the country.

For Mr. Berlusconi, the success means a strong popular endorsement for the remaining three years of his mandate. It gives the Italian leader momentum to push through controversial reforms, including overhauling the justice system.

“This result is the best recognition for the work done by the government,” he said, and an encouragement “to carry out, in this second half of the legislature, reforms that are necessary to modernise the country.”

Keywords: ItalyBerlusconi

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