Italians went to the polls in partial local elections yesterday that are being seen as a test of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s popularity. The two-day vote, across nine provinces and 1,177 towns, is expected to reveal whether a number of criminal trials and sex scandals have damaged his standing. Correspondents say the key issues are low economic growth, unemployment and Italy’s role in the Libya crisis. The poll is Italy’s last vote before national elections in 2013. The key battlegrounds are the cities of Turin, Naples, Bologna and Milan – Berlusconi’s hometown and the Italian business capital. For the first time in many years, the prime minister’s coalition faces the prospect of losing Milan, where the campaigning has been particularly vicious.