Polls in seven regions and referendum to slim down parliament are taking place under strict COVID-19 measures.
Italians are voting in seven regional elections expected to favour the far right and a constitutional referendum to cut down the number of MPs in the country’s two chambers.
Voting began at 7am (05:00 GMT) and will run until 11pm local time on Sunday. It will continue on Monday from 7am to 3pm. Results are expected to be announced later on Monday.
The main national governing parties – the Five Star Movement and the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) – are bracing for a poor showing in the first electoral test since the outbreak of the new coronavirus.
The opposition, led by Matteo Salvini of the far-right League, is expected to win in at least three regions, including Veneto, the region around Venice, and Liguria in the north, according to projections.
The PD is confident of victory only in Campania, the region around Naples, and is desperate to avoid defeat in Tuscany, a former left-wing stronghold where the League’s candidate could achieve a historic win.
Regional leaderships are also being decided in Le Marche, Puglia and Valle d’Aosta.
Separately, some 51.6 million people are eligible to vote in a referendum on reducing the number of MPs in the country’s parliament. If the changes are approved in the referendum, the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house, will go from 630 MPs to 400, and the Senate from 315 to 200.
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