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POLITICS

Right-wing triumphs in Sardinia’s local elections

There was another local election win for Italy's right-wing bloc as the results of Sunday's vote in Sardinia were announced today.

Right-wing triumphs in Sardinia's local elections
League leader and Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini (L) with Christian Solinas, a senator from the Sardinian Action Party. Photo: Matteo Salvini/Twitter

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.

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.”

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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ITALIAN ELECTIONS

Italy’s hard right set for election victory after left-wing alliance collapses

An Italian centre-left election pact broke down on Sunday just days after it was formed, leaving the path to power clear for the hard-right coalition.

Italy’s hard right set for election victory after left-wing alliance collapses

The alliance between Italian centre-left parties was left in disarray on Sunday night, potentially meaning a landslide victory for the hard-right coalition at early general elections in September.

The leader of the centrist Azione party withdrew support for the left-wing coalition led by the Democratic Party (PD) just five days after the two joined forces, saying it could not work with left-wingers brought in to boost the alliance.

Carlo Calenda, leader of Azione, withdrew his support on Sunday after PD made another pact with smaller left-wing parties including the radical Sinistra Italiana, and new green party Europa Verde.

“You cannot explain (to voters) that to defend the constitution you make a pact with people you know you will never govern with,” Calenda told newspaper Corriere della Sera.

The news was greeted with jubilation by hard-right League leader Matteo Salvini, who tweeted: “On the left chaos and everyone against everyone!”

Giorgia Meloni, leader of the neofascist Brothers of Italy party (FdI) mocked a “new twist in the soap opera of the centre-left.”

READ ALSO: Italy to choose ‘Europe or nationalism’ at election, says PD leader

Analyists predict the centre-left split could hand the right-wing bloc a landslide victory at the election on September 25th, with Meloni tipped to become Italy’s first female prime minister.

Italy’s political system favours coalitions, and while Meloni has a strong alliance with Salvini’s League and Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, Letta is struggling to bring together the disparate  progressive parties.

The PD is neck and neck with Brothers of Italy in the latest opinion polls, but even in partnership with Azione, the group most recently polled at 33.6 percent, compared with 46.4 percent for the right.

Political commentators said the only hope PD has now of posing a credible threat to the right-wing alliance would be by partnering with the Five Star Movement.

READ ALSO: Why has Italy’s government collapsed in the middle of summer?

However, Letta has repeatedly said this is out of the question, as he blames M5S for triggering the political crisis that brought down Mario Draghi’s broad coalition government.

“Either PD eats its hat and seeks alliance with M5S to defeat the right-wing coalition, or it’s hard to see how the right can possibly lose the forthcoming election,” Dr Daniele Albertazzi, a politics professor at the University of Surrey in England, tweeted on Sunday.

Early elections were called after Draghi resigned in late July. His government currently remains in place in a caretaker role.

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