A centre-right coalition took 47 percent of the vote on the island, handing the regional senator post to the League's preferred candidate, Christian Solinas, a senator from the Sardinian Action Party.
The centre-left candidate, Cagliari Mayor Massimo Zedda, came in second with 34 percent, while the Five Star Movement (M5S) candidate, Francesco Desogus, took 11 percent.
? #Sardegna: 1.803/1.840 sezioni scrutinate, LISTE/COALIZIONI
— YouTrend (@you_trend) February 26, 2019
The result echoed the two governing parties' performance in the Abruzzo regional election earlier this month and in opinion polling, which show the League picking up votes while support for M5S continues to drop.
However M5S has never done particularly well at regional elections, which are normally won by broad coalitions such as the centre-right bloc the League ran with, or the numerous “civic lists” representing small local interest groups. In Sardinia there was an especially high number of these groups.
M5S candidates have always had a policy of standing alone, as opposed to joining such coalitions. Party leader Luigi di Maio indicated this could now change, saying today that M5S will “restructure” and “between today and tomorrow there will be important news for the Movement.”
— La Nuova Sardegna (@lanuovasardegna) February 26, 2019
Di Maio and Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte both played down the results of the vote in identical comments, stating that “general election results can't be compared to regional ones,”
Along with League leader Matteo Salvini, they insisted that the result in Sardinia “changes nothing at the level of the national government”.
Italy's local elections are being closely watched by analysts who see them as a test of strength for the two ruling parties ahead of European elections in May.
Success in the European polls would strengthen the League's hand further, with expectations that this would spur the party into “engineering” an early election in a bid to rule alone.
League leader and Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini. Photo: AFP
The League-M5S coalition in Rome has always been an uneasy one. But disagreements are intensifying over a string of major policies and issues, including Venezuela’s political crisis and the construction of the TAV rail link between Italy and France.
Candidates in Sardinia were keen to appeal to Sardinia's dairy farmers amid the ongoing milk price protests on the island.
Protesting farmers, who have been dumping milk onto roads and blocking delivery routes in the past two weeks, had previously theatened to disrupt the vote on Sunday if their demands were not met.
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