ROME - Center-left leader Pier Luigi Bersani is favorite among Italians to lead the next government, with outgoing technocrat Prime Minister Mario Monti second most popular and Silvio Berlusconi coming a close third, a poll showed on Sunday.
Bersani scored 36.2 percent, Monti 23.3 percent and Berlusconi 21.8 percent, the poll, conducted by the CISE electoral research institute for Il Sole 24 Ore daily, found.
Whoever wins the Feb. 24-25 elections will have to tackle a deep recession and rising unemployment in the euro zone's third largest economy as well as keeping strained public finances under control.
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