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Italy Voters Stay Home as Turnout on Pace for Post-WWII Low

Italy Voters Stay Home as Turnout on Pace for Lowest Since WWII
Turnout declined to 55 percent of voters as of 10 p.m. yesterday in Rome from 63 percent at a comparable point during elections in 2008, according to the Interior Ministry. Photographer: Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty Images

Feb. 25 (Bloomberg) -- Italian voter turnout fell in the first day of parliamentary elections, setting a pace for a post-World War II low, as rain and snow slowed the trek to ballot boxes.

Turnout fell to 55 percent of voters as of 10 p.m. yesterday in Rome from 63 percent at a comparable point during elections in 2008, according to the Interior Ministry. The four-way race for the premiership ends today at 3 p.m.

“I’m not voting, there’s no one to vote for,” said Titti Palumbo, a retired grandmother of two who was at a polling station in Rome accompanying a friend. “I hope abstention sends a message. I want different candidates.”

Voter participation has declined from more than 90 percent in the 1970s to 81 percent five years ago when Silvio Berlusconi won his third election. This year, voters are picking a new leader after the 15-month caretaker administration of Mario Monti, the euro zone’s only unelected head of government. The February vote is unusual for Italy, which usually holds ballots between April and June.

Italian 10-year bond yields fell 3 basis points to 4.41 percent at 11:40 a.m. in Rome today.

Pier Luigi Bersani, the front-runner, is seeking to hold onto a lead he had in opinion surveys two weeks ago when a polling blackout began. Berlusconi, Monti and populist Beppe Grillo are challenging for votes.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Frye in Rome at afrye@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net

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