Italian region votes as political leaders spar over future

Italy's political leaders are watching the latest regional election in hopes the outcome will boost their clout in the struggle to form a new national government.

Some 1.1 million people in the northeastern region of Friuli Venezia Giulia were eligible to vote Sunday for their governor and regional legislature.

The outgoing governor is from the Democratic Party, which was trounced in the national parliamentary election held last month.

Matteo Salvini, whose right-wing League made impressive gains in the March 4 vote, hopes the regional balloting will enhance his north-based party's influence in the negotiations to form a government.

Salvini ran for premier with a center-right alliance that included former Premier Silvio Berlusconi's party. Berlusconi has nixed the alliance joining a potential coalition with the populist 5-Star Movement, now Parliament's largest party.