Italians continue voting on last election day
(dpa) - Polls reopened in Italy on Monday morning in the second and last day of general elections.
Voting was scheduled to continue until the closing of polls at 3 pm (1300 GMT). Preliminary results were expected by Monday evening.
The first day of voting on Sunday registered a dip in voter turnout with around 63 per cent of the 50 million eligible casting their ballots. In the last election in 2006, the first-day turnout was 67 per cent.
Centre-right opposition leader Silvio Berlusconi and former Rome mayor Walter Veltroni of the centre-left Democratic Party are the main contenders in the national race, which comes just two years after Italy's last parliamentary election. Mayoral races are also taking place in several cities, most notably in the capital Rome.
Prime Minister Romano Prodi resigned in February, when his centre- left coalition lost a confidence vote in the Senate, the upper chamber of Parliament.
Analysts have cited voter fatigue to predict a lower turnout than in 2006, when nearly 84 per cent of eligible voters participated in what turned out to be the closest election in modern Italian history.
Opinion polls published two weeks ago suggested that Berlusconi's People of Freedom Party and its allies enjoyed a lead of 6 to 8 per cent over Veltroni's Democratic Party.
But the gap may have narrowed since a media blackout on the publication of such polls came into force at the end of March.
The same surveys indicated that one-third of Italian voters were still unsure of their choices or even whether they would participate in the election at all.