Italy’s Populist League Dominates Municipal Elections Sunday

Italy's Lega Nord party (Northern League) Matteo Salvini answers questions at the Foreign Press Association in Rome on February 22, 2018. Salvini and his coalition run for the March 4, 2018 vote aimed at electing Parliament and Senate members. / AFP PHOTO / Alberto PIZZOLI (Photo credit should read ALBERTO …

As the results of Italy’s municipal elections from around the country continue to pour in, the biggest gains are going to the anti-establishment League party, with its 5-Star partner suffering important setbacks.

Sunday’s mayoral elections involving 761 Italian municipalities and nearly seven million Italians—over 10 percent of the population—show a decisive victory for Matteo Salvini’s League (and with it, the broader centre-right coalition).

The League’s governing partner, the leftward-leaning, populist 5-Star Movement, showed unimpressive results and took just 6 percent of municipal posts, just three months after taking the largest share of the vote in national elections on March 4.

The leftist Democratic Party (PD), which has been steadily losing ground for the past year, lost major ground even in its traditional stronghold cities.

Ancona was the only regional capital city to elect a mayor and city council from the PD, with incumbent PD mayor Valeria Mancinelli ahead with over 40 percent of the vote.

One of the PD’s major losses was the traditional centre-left stronghold of Terni, which elected centre-right candidate Leonardo Latini as mayor, with more than double the vote of his opponent Paolo Angeletti.

The League and the centre-right wrested a number of cities from the 5-Stars, sweeping through southern towns like Imperia, Teramo, Sondrio, and Brindisi.

In the central Italian region of Tuscany, all the candidates are around 30 percent and many cities will be decided by run-off votes.

In Sicily, as well, the centre-right made important gains as citizens from five important cities were called to the polls, from Catania to Messina. Where the 5-Stars dominated the national vote in March, the movement suffered significant losses to the centre-right.

In the two municipalities of Rome where elections were held, the 5-Star Movement also received bad news, with its two candidates out of the running.

The 5-Stars did not win the mayorship of Ivrea, the hometown of the movement’s strategist Davide Casaleggio.

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