Right Wing Populist League Party Wins Big in Italian Regional Vote

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Andrea Lasorte/ANSA via AP

ROME (AP) — Italy’s right-wing League party has a new regional election win, fueling its determination Monday to govern the entire country.

Final results on Monday showed the anti-migrant League’s candidate for governor, Massimiliano Federiga, capturing 57 percent of the votes cast Sunday for the center-right campaign alliance which backed him in the balloting in the northeast Friuli Venezia Giulia region. The victory expands the League’s solid dominance in Italy’s affluent north.

League senator Roberto Calderoli said the latest triumph should make Italy’s president “reflect” on his next move in trying to nudge the country’s squabbling parties into forming a national coalition government following an election in March.

The populist 5-Star Movement trailed badly in Sunday’s ballot, with 11.7 percent. But in the March 4 vote, the 5-Stars triumphed in the economically lagging south, where their support has been soaring, and became Parliament’s largest party.

The League, led by Matteo Salvini, was part of a center-right bloc in the March vote that controls the largest number of seats in Parliament.

The League party’s Massimiliano Federiga is hugged by a supporter in Trieste, Italy, Monday, April 30, 2018. (Andrea Lasorte/ANSA via AP)

But neither the League nor the 5-Stars have enough lawmakers in Parliament to govern alone. Italy’s head of state, President Sergio Mattarella, has been sounding out leaders across the political spectrum to see whose forces could unite in a government with a solid parliamentary majority.

While 5-Star leader Luigi Di Maio has insisted he be the Italy’s premier, Salvini is eager for the same post. Neither party has ever had a leader in the premier’s office.

After center-right leaders, including former Premier Silvio Berlusconi, failed to work out a bargain with the 5-Stars, Mattarella asked the 5-Stars to sound out the Democrat Party, which has governed Italy since 2013 but which did badly in the recent national elections.

Democrats, squabbling among themselves for years now, are also divided about whether to explore the prospect of governing with Di Maio’s populists. Top Democrat leaders will try to decide their next move at a meeting on Thursday. Matteo Renzi, the former premier and ex-chief of the Democrats, on Sunday night ruled out the possibility that he and his faction in the party would join a 5-Star government.

With the League notching another electoral victory in the north, and the Democrats divided over any future alliance with the 5-Stars, Di Maio on Monday tossed out a new idea.

“At this point, there is no other solution. We need to go back to vote as soon as possible,” Di Maio said on Facebook.

Mattarella is considered to be reluctant to give up now on Italy’s getting a government on the basis of the March vote. It’s up to the president to dissolve Parliament, paving the way for a new election.

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