A right-wing alliance including Matteo Salvini’s far-right League party won local elections in the Basilicata region on Monday, ending 24 years of centre-left power in a poll seen as the last “test” of the League’s popularity before upcoming European elections.
Retired financial police general Vito Bardi, from former premier Silvio Berlusconi's right-wing Forza Italia party, took victory with most votes after Sunday's election in the southern region, which is located on the instep of Italy's “boot”.
New regional president Bardi's list won 42 percent of votes, according to provisional results, while the centre-left list took 33 percent.
Forza Italia's candidate was backed by right-wing parties including the anti-immigrant League as part of a list.
“Basilicata is ready for change. I will call Silvio Berlusconi, Matteo Salvini and Giorgia Meloni to have a big party,” Bardi told local media.
“And now we’ll change Europe,” he wrote.
— Matteo Salvini (@matteosalvinimi) March 25, 2019
The League is in a national government coalition with the populist Five Star Movement, which won nearly 21 percent in Sunday's vote, half what it won in at elections at the national level last year.
Disappointed voters punished M5S after the party failed to fulfil campaign promises to take a hard line against the oil industry in the region, local media reported. Basilicata is home to the Val'd Agri field, which pumps 85,000 barrels per day in the largely agricultural area.
The League has been riding high in the polls since last year's national elections and is eyeing greater success at the European parliament elections in May.
Political analysts said the League “will be able to deploy its anti-EU rhetoric to full effect and lock-in its recent gains in support” at the European elections.