Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's coalition has suffered a humiliating defeat, as the candidates he backed lost in mayoral elections in Milan and Naples on Monday.
Left-wing lawyer Giuliano Pisapia defeated incumbent Letizia Moratti of Berlusconi's People of Freedom party in the Milan mayoral run-off election, garnering 55 percent of the vote. The loss in Milan, Mr. Berlusconi's hometown and the country's financial capital, is the first time the left has controlled the city in nearly 20 years.
In Naples, former prosecutor Luigi De Magistris gained 65 percent of the vote, compared to 35 percent for Berlusconi ally Gianni Lettieri.
The election results are seen by some as a sign of the prime minister's falling popularity. The 74-year-old Berlusconi is facing several court cases, the most high-profile of which involves accusations that he had sex with an underage prostitute. He has denied all of the charges.