Silvio Berlusconi's sex scandals, unsteady leadership and the inability of his government to deliver much needed economic reforms have caused the Italian Prime Minister's popularity to plunge to 29 per cent, results of an opinion poll showed Wednesday , dpa reported
The results of Ipr Markerting survey also indicate that the premier's ruling centre-right coalition would lose power in the event of a snap election.
Berlusconi's People of Freedom party and its junior partner in government, the federalist Northern League, would garner 39 per cent of the votes compared to 42.5 per cent won by a coalition consisting of the main centre-left opposition parties.
The survey which was commissioned by the leftist La Repubblica newspaper, was based on a sample group of 1,000 Italians who were polled on June 11-12 around the same time as a national referendum on key government policies, including plans to reintroduce nuclear power.
In a surprise result, almost 95 per cent of the around 27 million Italians who cast ballots in the referendum rejected the government's plans.
The result was a second stinging defeat for Berlusconi after his coalition was beaten last month by the centre-left in local elections involving three of Italy's major cities - Milan, Naples and Turin.
However, in his analysis of the Ipr opinion poll, Matteo Tonelli writing in La Repubblica warned that it would be "too early" for the centre-left to celebrate victory.
"If Berlusconi is crying, the centre-left should not rest comfortably on its laurels," Tonelli wrote.
He noted how the centre-left "coalition" mentioned in the survey was only a hypothetical one, ranging from moderate Catholics to former Communists and ultra-secularists, which so far has been unable to unite under a single candidate for premier.
The survey also suggested that the centre-right's fortunes could improve in the event of Berlusconi stepping aside in favour of another leader such as the current Justice Minister Angelino Alfano who the premier has recently mentioned as a possible successor.
The Ipr Marketing poll gave Alfano an approval rating of 59 per cent, higher than any other minister in Berlusconi's government which in total only managed to obtain an approval of 23 per cent.
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