Even the Pope could not save Berlusconi, as Italian voters in regional elections gave a foretaste of exactly how determined they are to throw out his government at the general election next year:
Italians have given Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi a severe political beating, leaving him just one year to recover before a general election he now looks in serious danger of losing.Meanwhile on May 5th -just a month away, Tony Blair is to face the voters convinced he has a secret agenda. The British establishment have ensured there is no viable alternative, so Blair will likely be reelected. However, a slimmer margin of victory would allow backbenchers to hold a subsequent government to ransom:
Not even the death of Pope John Paul could keep Italians from delivering the chastening message to Berlusconi at regional elections on Sunday and Monday where his center-right coalition was defeated in 11 of 13 regions at stake. Defying fears that Catholics would desert the ballot boxes, the turnout was 71.4 percent of the more than 41 million eligible voters.
'It is already clear that the defeat, a defeat so crushing that it cannot be talked down or excused, has caused a political crisis for the government,' said Italy's leading daily, the mainstream Corriere della Sera." [source]
" A Populus poll published Tuesday found that 73 percent of the sample thought Blair had a secret policy agenda, 60 percent thought he said what he thought people wanted to hear, and 51 percent thought he had shown bad judgment in a crisis. However, 66 percent rated him a strong leader, compared with 42 percent who had the same opinion of Howard.
" Labour has a massive lead in the 659-seat House of Commons, with 410 lawmakers - 161 more than all the other parties combined. Most believe that such a lead is insurmountable. But Labour officials fear that a low turnout by core Labour supporters, coupled with a voter backlash over the war, could substantially cut the government's majority - potentially undermining Blair's authority. [source]