Regional elections will take place in seven of Italy's 20 regions on on September 20-21: the Aosta Valley, Campania, Liguria, Marche, Puglia, Tuscany, and Veneto.
What are we voting for exactly?
The regional polls elect the president of each region – roughly the equivalent of a state governor in the US.
The regional president appoints and heads a committee of councillors that help govern the region. There is also a regional parliament elected separately by voters.
Most candidates are aligned with Italy's biggest political parties – which are currently the League (Lega), the Democratic Party (partito democratico, or PD), the Five Star Movement (movimento Cinque Stelle (or M5S), Forza Italia. But many candidates are often from other, smaller parties including Brothers of Italy (Fratelli d'Italia) and regional groups such as the Sardinian Action Party.
The below map shows which party currently rules which region in Italy, with those awaiting an election this month marked in grey and bordered by the colour of the party in power.
Map: Wikimedia Commons
The situation is similar in local (municipal) elections, in which a mayor is elected for each comune, though there are usually fewer candidates in the running, with the main players often backed by a coalition of left- or right-wing parties.
You'll find details of each candidates manifesto and upcoming appearances on their party's website, or on the candidates' own social media pages. Italian politicians are often particularly active on Facebook, so it may be worth checking there first for updates.
Former Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi shows his ballot at a polling station in Milan. Photo: AFP
What powers do local governments have?
While regional and local powers have been expanded temporarily under covid-19 emergency measures, most regional administrations usually answer to the national government in Rome.
The majority of the regions don’t have much power, particularly when compared to federal states such as Germany.
They keep only 20 percent of tax revenue, and the constitution grants them ” legislative powers in all subject matters that are not expressly covered by State legislation”, which in practice doesn't amount to much.
But five regions (Aosta Valley, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Sardinia, Sicily, Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol) have special status, meaning their governments have special constitutional powers and greater control over local laws and money.
If you look at a map, you'll see these regions all lie on Italy's borders, and the special status helps them preserve cultural differences.
Italy was only unified in 1861, and its 20 administrative regions more or less correspond to the historical regions. Italy is further divided into 110 provinces and almost 8,000 comuni.
This is not the only vote being held in September
The September elections will take place concurrently with the 2020 Italian constitutional referendum, in which voters will be asked whether they approve a constitutional law that amends various aspects of the Italian Constitution – most notably on reducing the number of MPs in parliament, from 630 to 400 in the Chamber of Deputies and from 315 to 200 in the Senate.
For more information on voting rights, see the Italian Interior Ministry's website.