The League (far right) of Matteo Salvini was defeated by the left Sunday in Emilia-Romagna, according to partial results of a regional election worth national test for the Italian sovereignist leader, who counted on this symbolic election to win back the power.
The outgoing president of the region Stefano Bonaccini (Democratic Party, center left) was clearly ahead, with a score around 50% of the votes, his opponent Lucia Borgonzoni (League) at around 43%, according to projections made from the counting of the ballots cast Monday at 2:00 a.m. (1:00 a.m. GMT).
This election was marked by a very high turnout of 67.67%, against 37% in previous regional meetings in 2014.
Representatives of the ruling majority formed by the Democratic Party (PD, left) and the 5 Stars (M5S, anti-establishment) may have hammered that this election would have no impact on the government, the head of the League had announced that in the event of his camp’s victory he would demand the resignation of the executive and early legislative elections on Monday.
“After 70 years, there was a real match (left / right, note) in Emilia-Romagna. In the past, the match was over before it started,” said Matteo Salvini to the press, without wanting to explicitly recognize his defeat, but recalling that the left was used to winning the votes in this region.
“Something will change in Rome tomorrow,” he predicted, citing possible repercussions for the government.
Salvini tried to console himself by rejoicing in the already certain victory – taking into account a gap of more than 20 points with his first opponent – of the candidate of the center Jole Santelli, during elections regional events organized in Calabria.
“A crossing of the desert?”
Given his commitment to the fore in this election, his defeat in Emilia-Romagna could, according to some observers, mark for the boss of the Italian far right “the beginning of a long crossing of the desert in opposition”.
With national polls showing the League at the top of voting intentions around 30% and the first party in Italy, the sovereignist hoped that a quick summons of Italians to the polls would be synonymous for him back in control of the country.
A thriving north-central region of the peninsula, Emilia-Romagna has long been an impregnable bastion of the left whose values still prevail in its cities, even if the right has made serious inroads into its villages and countryside.
League candidate Lucia Borgonzoni, 43, was completely overshadowed by Matteo Salvini, who organized daily meetings and inundated social media with photos of him enjoying Parma ham or Parmesan, two specialties internationally known.
In the opposing camp, the outgoing center-left regional president Stefano Bonaccini, re-elected, opposed his good management and the economic results of the region, which has an unemployment rate of 5.9% (against 9.7% in national plan) and growth of 2.2% in 2018.
The main factor of stability for the ruling majority in Italy, weakened by divisions, is the common fear of a premature return to the polls that could allow Matteo Salvini to return to business.
In addition to the large crowd at the polls, the left has undoubtedly benefited from the anti-Salvinian dynamic created by the Sardines, a movement of young people born in the region two months ago and quickly became a national symbol of the protest against the extreme -right.
According to some observers, the head of government Giuseppe Conte and the Democratic Party (which governs with the M5S) should be reinforced by this victory of the left, which the far right had come to challenge in its historic stronghold of Emilia-Romagna.
Close to the M5S, Mr. Conte will however “have to be careful of the collateral effects of the PD’s victory in Emilia-Romagna,” wrote the Corriere della Sera, the first Italian daily, on Sunday, anticipating such a scenario.
On the strength of its local result, the PD could, according to the newspaper, be tempted to impose its political agenda on its ally in the government, the anti-establishment movement “5 Stars” (M5S), weakened by a deep crisis, and which, according to the first projections, would have been rolled as well in Emilia Romagna as in Calabria.