ROME - Italians began voting in four referendums on Sunday that could strike a new blow against Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who is still stinging from heavy local election losses last month.
The center-left opposition has been leading a spirited campaign to get the voters out to cast their ballots on the questions, which concern the privatization of water utilities, nuclear energy and whether government ministers can be exempt from attending trials against them.
A central issue will be whether enough voters turn out to ensure the necessary quorum of 50 percent plus one vote. But if they repeal existing laws by voting yes, the result will likely have repercussions on his fractious center-right coalition.
"Behind the numbers lies the political fate of those who have taken a stand," Il Sole 24 Ore, Italy's leading business daily, said on Sunday.