Italy government

Italian government strengthened as Salvini fails in regional elections

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Italy’s right-wing opposition leader Matteo Salvini failed to make the breakthroughs he had hoped for in regional elections, voting results showed on Monday, giving the fragile coalition government a boost.

As the count went down, the center-left Democratic Party (PD) seemed sure to retain three regions it already rules, while the right made only one gain and remained in charge of two. other regions.

Basically, the PD was headed for a comfortable hold in Tuscany, which the left has ruled continuously since the first regional council elections in 1970.

Earlier this month, League leader Salvini said he was aiming for a clean sweep.

Italian sovereign debt spreads narrowed as the votes were tallied as investors hoped the September 20-21 poll results would bolster stability at a time when the government is battling the economic crisis triggered by the coronavirus.

Culture Minister and prominent PD official Dario Franceschini said the result had strengthened the party and its leader, Nicola Zingaretti. “Now that he and the PD are stronger, the government can move forward,” he said in a tweet.

There are growing signs that Salvini is losing some of his appeal to the Italians. The League remains the country’s most popular party, but has steadily declined in opinion polls over the past year, as well as Salvini’s personal approval ratings.

Most attention was on Tuscany, where Salvini has campaigned tirelessly in recent weeks – as he did in January when he unsuccessfully tried to win another leftwing stronghold, Emilia-Romagna.

A partial vote count gave the PD candidate a comfortable 6.4 point lead over their League challenger.

Until the Emilia-Romagna setback, Salvini had led his conservative allies to eight consecutive regional victories since the last national poll in March 2018.

Five Star Movement hails referendum victory

In a national referendum held alongside local elections, Italians voted strongly in favor of reducing the number of lawmakers in the upper and lower houses of parliament to 600 from 945.

Some 70% of voters backed the measure – a clear victory for the ruling Five Star Movement, which has championed the reform, arguing it would cut costs and improve parliamentary efficiency.

“It’s a historic result. We can return to a normal parliament, with fewer privileges and 345 fewer seats,” said five-star senior Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio.

In the regional poll, the right easily kept control of the northern regions of Veneto and Liguria, while the PD kept Campania to the south.

The right took Marche from the PD, but the centre-left incumbent looked certain to win Italy’s heel Puglia, defying recent polls which suggested he would lose.

In another potentially worrying sign for Salvini, incumbent Veneto League president Luca Zaia, seen as a possible future challenger to his party leader, won with an overwhelming 75% of the vote.

Zaia’s personal list of candidates obtained around 41%, while the official League party list obtained only 16%.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)