5 takeaways from Italy’s local elections – POLITICO
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ROME — Italians went to the polls to vote for around 1,200 mayors on Sunday and Monday in the first elections since former European Central Bank President Mario Draghi took over as prime minister in February.

Draghi’s arrival has shaken up the political scene, with the 5Star Movement and Democratic Party now fielding new leaders, and his authority has diminished the ability of the parties in the governing coalition to get across their political message and have an influence on policy.

Center-left candidates are poised for victory in several of the big cities up for grabs, according to projections on Monday. But in many races where no single candidate won outright, including in Rome and Turin, there will need to be a runoff vote in two weeks.

Here are five takeaways from the election:

National government intact

The election is unlikely to cause any problems for the national government. Draghi’s leadership remains unchallenged, with approval ratings close to 70 percent. Matteo Salvini, leader of the far-right League, which is in the coalition that Draghi leads, reiterated his support for the government on Monday, saying: “If anyone tries to use the vote to overthrow the government of national unity, they are very wrong. We are here and here we stay.”

Democrat success

The center-left Democrats have already claimed victory in Bologna, with Milan and Naples projected to go to candidates supported by the center left and Democratic candidates favorites in the runoffs in Rome and Turin. Leader of the Democrats Enrico Letta, who is on course to win a by-election in Siena that would return him to the national parliament, said the ballot was “a great success” for the PD and “a victory for Europe.”

Right suffer, but not that much

Although the right-wing group made up of Salvini’s League, Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia and Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy is likely to lose out in the five biggest cities, that was expected and the right tends to do better in smaller places. The right-wing group is still in pole position to win the next national election, which has to take place by 2023. The parties are also likely to have more mayors by the end of the counting than they had before, including wins in Trieste and in a regional election in Calabria. In Rome, the right-wing candidate Enrico Michetti is on track to come first in the first round but is expected to lose to former Finance Minister Roberto Gualtieri in the runoff.

From 5Stars to zero stars

The decline of the 5Star Movement, which made huge gains in 2016 but whose support has dropped off a cliff of late, continued with the party losing in Rome and Turin. In the latter, the 5Star candidate is projected to take just 10 percent of the vote and it was worse in Milan where the movement is on course for just 3 percent. For party leader Giuseppe Conte, a former prime minister who took over the party in August, it was a disastrous debut. Conte on Monday was in damage limitation mode, claiming that the changes he had implemented since taking power have yet to take effect. The good news for the 5Stars is that where it joined forces with the Democrats, including in Bologna and Naples, the partnership was a success. Conte and Letta welcomed the joint results and suggested further partnerships are possible in the second round.

Meloni on the rise

Meloni of the far-right Brothers of Italy looks set to confirm her place as a serious contender for the premiership in the next election. Her party equaled or bested the rival League in all four of the biggest cities, including Salvini’s home city of Milan, where both parties are set to take 11 percent of the vote each. In Rome, 18 percent of voters plumped for the Brothers of Italy versus 6 percent for the League. In Bologna, the Brothers of Italy were ahead of the League by 13 percent to 8 percent. Under Meloni’s leadership, the party has gone from 4 percent support in 2018 elections to 20 percent in the polls now.





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