Local elections in 168 Italian councils and cities have returned a number of unexpected surprise mayors, with the centre-left Democratic Party winning the largest number of seats, despite a surge by the centre-right coalition.
The centre-right thus claimed the results as a victory, winning key cities and towns from the centre-left Democratic Party in the north of the country. It was a good day for independent candidates too: the number of mayors without a party doubled from 23 to 46 vis-a-vis votes cast in the 2012 ballots in the 168 available seats where voting took place over the weekend.
Matteo Renzi's centre-left Democratic Party (PD) won 56 of the councils, just over a third of the total available in this round of local elections. More than 1300 council elections were decided in 2016, when Renzi's party won more than 800.
But victories for the centre-right this time round in key urban areas such as Genova, La Spezia and L'Aquila saw the right win 13 swing seats from Renzi's Democratic Party. Comedian-turned-politician Beppe Grillo's Five Star Movement lost Parma and failed to make large gains in other regions, contributing further to the recent decline of the party.
The centre-right coalition won 47 seats, with unexpected successes in the northwest region of Liguria and the southern city of Catanzaro. The centre-left also lost several other cities, including Pistoia, La Spezia, Lodi, Monza, Como, Asti and Piacenza. Renzi's Democratic Party did however do well in its southern strongholds of Puglia and Sicily. it was also a good day for the leader of Italy's Lega Nord, Matteo Salvini, who saw his vote share rise as part of the rebranded 'centre-right' coalition with Berlusconi's Forza Italia. Lega Nord won 7 of the 26 seats available in the council of Verona, for example, where the centre-left candidate was heavily defeated.
The full list of local election results can be seen here. The current parliament's mandate expires in early 2018 and recent negotiations in parliament suggest the next general election will be held as early as in the autumn of 2017.