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Early Results Show Italian Voters Rejecting Constitutional Changes


Ongoing ballot counting in Italy shows voters rejecting a series of constitutional changes aimed at strengthening the powers of the prime minister and granting regions greater autonomy.

Interior ministry officials say returns from about half of the 60,000 polling stations show 62 percent of voters opposing the measures, and 38 percent backing them. Full results are expected late Monday.

Under the changes, proposed by the former center-right government of Silvio Berlusconi, the prime minister would appoint and remove cabinet members and dissolve parliament. Currently, such decisions must be approved by the president.

New center-left Prime Minister Romano Prodi and some constitutional experts have opposed the changes, calling them ill-conceived and saying they will give too much power to the prime minister.

Officials say voter turnout was 35 percent Sunday, the first of two days of voting.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.