October 26, 2021

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Right-wing populist Lega loses sharply in Italian local elections

Right-wing populist Lega loses sharply in Italian local elections

The right-wing populist Lega led by Matteo Salvini is the biggest loser in the Italian local elections. Bologna, Naples and Milan will surely have a mayor of the center-left. A second round in Rome and Turin is needed.

Not all votes have been counted yet, but the results are clear. While Salvini’s party was aiming for a win in all five major cities a few months ago, that is uncertain in any city now. Especially since the result at his base in Milan is painful for Salvini. And while the party there won 27% of the vote in the 2019 European elections, it is now less than half.

“We elected our candidates too late and the voters did not have time to learn about their programmes,” Salvini declared defeat. However, the outcome is primarily seen as a punishment for his party’s participation in government.

Along with left-wing parties and technocrats, Lega is part of the national unity government of Prime Minister Mario Draghi, and therefore has had to make concessions regularly, including over the mandatory passage of Corona.

‘Victory strengthens the government’

The center-left Democratic Party appears to be benefiting from the government’s involvement and enthusiasm with which the Corona crisis in Italy is being tackled. Opinion polls show 66 per cent of Italians are happy with non-partisan Draghi as prime minister. This number has increased in the last month.

“This victory strengthens Italy because it strengthens the Draghi government,” Democratic Party leader and former Prime Minister Enrico Letta said in a speech tonight.

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Rome can still go in the right direction

In Rome, the battle is not yet over. It’s clear that Virginia Raggi, the populist Five Star Movement member and current mayor of the city, won’t get a second chance. Many Romans blame it for not doing enough over the past five years due to major infrastructure problems, such as numerous potholes and the city’s waste crisis.

Since none of the other candidates achieved an absolute majority, a second round will be held later this month. This is between Roberto Gualtieri of the Democratic Party employment Enrico MichettiAnd who also participates on behalf of Lega of Salvini.

Michetti got the most votes yesterday and today. If that happens again in the second round, Salvini could view the capture of the country’s most prestigious mayor position as a major boost.