Salvini’s Party Loses Important Regional Election
Italy’s opposition leader Matteo Salvini did not succeed in hoping to beat the government parties in a crucial regional election. However, his opponents cannot breathe a sigh of relief, either.
Salvini has suffered a defeat in an important regional election in Italy with his right-wing populist Lega. In Emilia-Romagna, Lega candidate Lucia Borgonzoni lost to center-left Socialist Democratic candidate Stefano Bonaccini on Sunday. The result is a relief for the stricken government coalition of Five Star Movement and Social Democrats in Rome.
The election in the industrial region in northern Italy was an essential test for the government of the independent Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte since Emilia-Romagna has always been in the hand of the left. A loss to the Lega would have been a severe blow to the coalition, which was unpopular with many Italians, and would have further weakened it. Now the Social Democrats celebrated their success – while the Five Star experienced an election debacle.
Salvini had hoped for a victory in the election to support his claim to power at the national level. Before the result, he spoke of an “open race” and proudly pointed out that there was now competing in the region after permanent left-wing dominance. However, his candidate got 43.7 percent of the vote – the Social Democrat candidate and incumbent regional president Bonaccini got 51.4 percent.
At the same time, elections were held in Calabria, where center-right candidate Jole Santelli celebrated a victory. Forza Italia’s ex-Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s party politician obtained more than 55 percent.
The populist Star Movement suffered significant defeats in both elections. In Emilia-Romagna, the party, which had once been founded as a protest movement, only received less than five percent of the vote. Given the impending disaster, Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio had already resigned from the post of party leader the previous week.
The coalition of Stars and Social Democrats has been governed in Italy since September 2019. The two dissimilar diametrically opposed had formed a coalition after the then Interior Minister Salvini had given up the previous alliance with the Star Movement. Now, however, both parties are struggling with internal disputes and poor polls and have faced severe slumps in several regional elections. In comparison: in the 2018 general election, the Star Movement had obtained almost 33 percent. As a result, Salvini is pushing for new elections, to re-establish himself and his party.
The turnout in Emilia-Romagna was more than 67 percent, almost twice as high as in the last election. The “sardine” movement, which mobilizes against hate speech from the right and has made it look international, also comes from the region.