June 11 - Italy's battered centre-left has won the election for mayor of Rome and 15 other major cities. But turnout was low and Sonia Legg asks what the result means for Italy's sluggish economy?
Political apathy was the real winner in the latest elections in Italy. Turnout was low as voters chose a new mayor for Rome and 15 other cities. But investors don't seem to mind - says BGC's Mike Ingram (SOUNDBITE): MIKE INGRAM, BGC PARTNERS, SAYING: "An interesting development yesterday was a couple of the Five Star delegates basically leaving the party saying they are fed up with Grillo as he is just going nowhere, so I think there is a feeling that you are seeing a return to what passes for political normality in Italy and things are generally settling down which I guess can only be a good thing." Ignazio Marino is the new mayor of Rome. The former surgeon was the centre-left candidate. He secured two thirds of the vote, beating the incumbent. The result strengthens Prime Minister Enrico Letta's position. He leads an uneasy coalition with Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right party and knows many Italians are currently more interested in economics than politics. (SOUNDBITE) (English) LETTA SAYING: "I think that the stability of today's Italian government is strictly linked to the delivery on the economic reform, on social reforms and in the institutional and constitutional change that we are trying to raise. So no fear on that. Of course there are a lot of problems and obstacles but all linked to the results, to the delivery in the economic platform." The election had little impact on the market. NAB's Nick Parson says that's because Germany's September vote is the only one that matters at the moment. (SOUNDBITE) (English) NICK PARSONS, NATIONAL AUSTRALIA BANK, SAYING: "There does seem to be a sense that politics is somewhat off the agenda as an area of concern - after all Italy does survive without governments and once we can get beyond September which is really the key for Europe - once we get the German Federal elections behind us - and we get more of a pro-growth anti-austerity, more solidarity feel towards the rest of Europe then that itself will be good for the peripheral countries." There was relief that a protest vote which influenced the national elections was largely absent this time. But the challenges ahead for Letta are still great. Italy's been in recession for two years - this year's forecasts are for a 1.3% contraction.