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ELECTION TESTS STRENGTH OF BERLUSCONI'S COALITION

Italians went to the polls Sunday in regional elections considered a key test for Premier Silvio Berlusconi's ruling coalition but overshadowed by the death of Pope John Paul II.

More than 41 million people were eligible to vote in the election of the governors and councils in 13 of Italy's 20 regions. With general elections due next year, the ballot is considered an important indicator of the center-right government's strength.

Berlusconi's ruling coalition controlled eight of the regions that were up for grabs. The center-left opposition held power in the remaining five regions.

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