Italy: Europe waits for Italy elections | BBC

There was a time when Italian elections were frequent and forgettable. Prime ministers were discarded like last season’s clothes. All of that has changed. What happens in Italy affects the rest of Europe. Campaigning ends on Friday. The result could rattle the eurozone and remind the markets of how little has been settled in the continent’s real economies. The favourite to win is an ex-Communist from the centre left, Pier Luigi Bersani. He is decidedly Mr Normal. There is nothing extravagant or flamboyant about him. There are no sharp suits. He likes the occasional cigar but he is almost an anti-candidate conducting a low-key conversation with Italy.

Italy: Berlusconi’s last throw of the dice in Italy election | Reuters

Billionaire showman Silvio Berlusconi has again astonished Italy with a storming comeback that has frayed nerves in European capitals and among investors, but the signs are his final gamble has failed. The 76-year-old media magnate and four-times prime minister looked down and out for much of 2012 after a jeering crowd hounded him from office in November 2011 as Italy tottered towards a Greek-style debt crisis. His indecision over whether to stand in this weekend’s election brought his People of Freedom Party (PDL) to the brink of disintegration. But since precipitating the fall of his successor, technocrat Mario Monti, in December and diving into the campaign, the former cruise ship crooner has shown unrivalled mastery of communication and energy belying his age. “Berlusconi was a poor prime minister but is a very tough campaigner, he never gives up,” said analyst Massimo Franco.