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Berlusconi closes gap on centre-left ahead of vote

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Silvio Berlusconi has narrowed the gap between his centre-right coalition and the frontrunning centre-left to as little as four points according to the final electoral polls published Friday, two weeks before Italy goes to the ballot boxes.

Just two months ago, the polls gave the centre-left -- headed by former Communist Pier Bersani -- a lead of between 15 and 20 percent on media mogul Berlusconi, who is running in his sixth election.

On Friday, a Demopolis Institute poll found the gap had narrowed to 33.6 percent for the left compared to 28.5 percent for the right.

A Tecne poll meanwhile put the left at 33.1 percent to the right's 29.4 percent and a survey by the Piepoli Institute gave the left 35.5 percent and the right's 30.5 percent.

"The difference between the two camps is around four percent and I think it will stay like that. It takes around three months of electoral campaigning to noticeably change such figures, not 15 days," pollster Nicola Piepoli told La Stampa newspaper.

"Berlusconi has done the most he can... but Bersani is ahead and that's where he'll stay," he said.

Roberto Weber, head of the SWG Institute which has also polled, told La Stampa: "I expect the margin seen today to be confirmed after the vote."

Most of the polls place outgoing Prime Minister Mario Monti in fourth place behind comedian turned politician Beppe Grillo and his Five Star Movement.

According to Tecne, Monti's centrist coalition is set to snap up 12.6 percent of the votes compared to Grillo's 16.3 percent, while Demopolis give Monti 13.6 percent to the M5S's 18.1 percent.

The Piepoli Institute is alone at putting him in front of Grillo, with 16 percent compared to 14 percent.

Between 30 and 35 percent of voters are still undecided or will abstain, the polls showed.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130208/berlusconi-closes-gap-centre-left-ahead-vote