The centre-right alliance led by populist leader Matteo Salvini’s League scored nearly 60 percent of the vote in the Umbrian regional election Sunday, sending the leftist national coalition parties into disarray.
The centre-right candidate for governor of the region, Donatella Tesei, who is supported by the League, the national-conservative Brothers of Italy and Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, won 57.5 percent of the vote, routing Vincenzo Bianconi, who was supported by the current national leftist coalition, Il Giornale reports.
Umbria has long been known as a stronghold for the left in Italy for the last 50 years and the centre-right victory is being seen as historic by some including Matteo Salvini who commented, “In Umbria, we are writing a new page of history.”
Antonio Tajani, vice president of Forza Italia and former European Parliament President, added, “The message of the Italians is that they want a centre-right government.”
The victory for Salvini and his allies follows a trend of a loss of support for leftist parties in the Italian regions since 2014 where around 12 regions are now controlled by the centre-right, with the centre-left losing nine governors.
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The consequences of the loss could spell disaster for the Five Star Movement-Democratic Party national government coalition as many within the two parties blamed each other for the poor result.
Democratic Party Senator Monica Cirinnà was quick to blame the Five Stars saying, “The [Five Star Movement] was born as a protest movement and then realizes that the government is something else, there is a very contentious group of people inside it and find themselves managing stuff that they are not able to handle.”
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Luigi Di Maio, the leader of the Five Star Movement, is also facing severe criticism within his own ranks over the election where the movement lost 7.4 percent.
Alessandro Di Battista, a popular member of the movement, has been suggested by some as a replacement for Di Maio.
The leadership challenge would be the second for Di Maio this year as members voted to keep him on as leader following the disastrous European Parliament election result in May.