Italy’s mayoral election results: Right claims historically leftwing cities

A centre-right coalition led by Italy's nationalist League won an extra seven cities in mayoral elections on Sunday, including strongholds of the left that elected their first rightwing mayor in more than half a century.

Italy's mayoral election results: Right claims historically leftwing cities
Italy's centre-right has another reason to celebrate after mayoral elections. File photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

In a second round of voting the city of Ferrara swung right for the first time since 1950, while Forlì ended 50 years of leftwing governance. Both are in the region of Emilia-Romagna, the heart of the traditional 'red belt' of leftwing voters across northern-central Italy that has shown drastic erosion in recent elections.

Matteo Salvini, head of the League and Italy's prominent deputy prime minister, called the victories “extraordinary”. They come on the heels of triumphant European elections two weeks ago in which his party won more than a third of the vote.

In total, his coalition – which also comprises the centre-right Forza Italia and far-right Brothers of Italy – added an extra seven provincial capitals to its tally after Sunday's run-off vote, including Pavia and Biella in the north, Pescara in the centre and Vibo Valentina in the south.

Combined with the first round of voting two weeks ago, that leaves the centre-right in charge of 12 provincial seats.

READ ALSO: How Italy's migrant model town Riace veered far-right

Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

The centre-left, meanwhile, has 14, having taken Rovigo in Veneto from the centre-right and Livorno in Tuscany from the anti-establishment Five Star Movement but lost six mayors. Most of its wins were 'holds' in places where city hall was already controlled by the left, including Florence, Bari, Prato and Reggio Emilia.

“Great victories and great holds,” commented the head of the Democratic Party, Nicola Zingaretti, which leads Italy's progressive opposition.

“There's an alternative to Salvini and it's a new centre-left. And this is only the start.”

The Five Star Movement, which governs in coalition with the League but runs against it in elections, won the one and only provincial capital where it was still in the running after a disastrous first round: Campobasso in Molise.

In total 136 towns and cities voted in Sunday's second round, out of 3,778 that took part in the first round on May 26th. Neither of Italy's biggest cities, Rome and Milan, were involved, following a different electoral schedule that will see them next elect a mayor in 2021.

Turnout on Sunday was down by around 16 percent: 52.1 percent of voters came back for the run-off, compared to 68.2 percent in the first round.


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Italy’s government to continue sending weapons to Ukraine in 2023

Italy's new government issued a decree on Thursday to continue sending weapons to Ukraine through 2023, continuing the previous administration's policy of support to Kyiv.

Italy's government to continue sending weapons to Ukraine in 2023

The decree extends to December 31, 2023 an existing authorisation for “the transfer of military means, materials and equipment to the government authorities of Ukraine,” according to a government statement.

Since taking office in October, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has repeatedly voiced her support for Kyiv while underlying the importance of the Atlantic alliance.

In her first speech to parliament, the leader of the Brothers of Italy party pledged to “continue to be a reliable partner of NATO in supporting Ukraine.”

Her predecessor Mario Draghi was a staunch supporter of Kyiv, but the issue of sending arms to Ukraine split the biggest party in parliament during his coalition government, the Five Star Movement.

That friction led to the early elections that brought Meloni to power.

Parliament now has 60 days to vote the decree into law.

READ ALSO: Outcry in Italy after Berlusconi defends Putin’s invasion of Ukraine

Despite Meloni’s efforts to reassure her Western allies of Italy’s support for the EU’s and NATO’s Ukraine strategy, including sanctions on Russia, the close ties to Russia of her two coalition partners have come under scrutiny.

Both Matteo Salvini of the League party and former premier Silvio Berlusconi, who leads Forza Italia, have long enjoyed warm relations with Russia.

In October, an audio tape of Berlusconi was leaked to the media in which the former premier described how he had received a birthday present of vodka from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In the tape, he also expressed concerns about sending weapons and cash to Kyiv and appeared to blame the war on Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky.

Berlusconi later issued a statement saying his personal position on Ukraine “does not deviate” from that of Italy and the EU.

Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, Salvini, too, has come under fire for his relations with Moscow, including a report that he dined with Russia’s ambassador to Rome just days after that country’s invasion of Ukraine.

Salvini, who has criticised EU sanctions as ineffective, has long admired Putin, even wearing T-shirts emblazoned with the Russian leader’s face.