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Italian Ruling Coalition Suffers Severe Setback in Regional Elections

The latest vote count from Sunday's regional elections in Italy confirms significant losses for the center-right coalition of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Near-final returns on Tuesday showed the coalition in control of only two of the 13 regions at stake in the poll. Before the vote, it had controlled eight of these regions.

The center-left opposition, among other things, gained control of the Lazio region, which includes the capital, Rome, and of the northern industrial region of Piedmont.

Political analysts described the elections as a test for Prime Minister Berlusconi ahead of next year's general election. The prime minister has faced strong opposition for his support of the U.S.-led war in Iraq and his decision to send troops there as part of the multinational coalition.

Some information for this report provided by AP and Reuters.