Italian voters have thwarted right-wing opposition leader Matteo Salvini’s hopes of turning an election in a key northern region into a springboard for regaining national power.
Nearly complete results from Sunday’s election for the governorship of the prosperous Emilia-Romagna region had his League party candidate winning only 43.7% of support to the 51.4% garnered by the incumbent governor Stefano Bonaccini from the centre-left Democrats.
The Democrats are in Italy’s national coalition government led by premier Giuseppe Conte.
But the big loser in that regional vote was the populist 5-Star Movement, which is Conte’s main coalition partner. The 5-Stars, who are the largest party in Italy’s national Parliament, tanked at some 3.5% of the vote.
Their poor showing, the latest slump in fortunes since their triumph in the 2018 national election, could worsen infighting in the 5-Stars and weaken their clout in Conte’s government.
In southern Calabria, the only other Italian region voting on Sunday, a centre-right candidate triumphed on a ticket that was backed by Salvini’s anti-migrant League party, the far-right Brothers of Italy party and the conservatives of former premier Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party.
Salvini sought to put a positive spin on his candidate’s defeat in Emilia-Romagna, saying he did remarkably well in a region that for decades has been a stronghold of the left.
Salvini himself had campaigned incessantly there, practically eclipsing his candidate Lucia Borgonzoni’s visibility.
We need your help ...
The coronavirus pandemic is changing our world, fast. And we will do all we can to keep bringing you news and analysis throughout. But we are worried about maintaining enough income to pay our staff and minimal overheads.
Now, more than ever, we need a vibrant, independent media that holds the government to account and calls it out when it puts vested economic interests above human lives. We need a media that shows solidarity with the people most affected by the crisis – and one that can help to build a world based on collaboration and compassion.
We have been fighting against an establishment that is trying to shut us down. And like most independent media, we don’t have the deep pockets of investors to call on to bail us out.
Can you help by chipping in a few pounds each month?