Published On: Mon, Oct 28th, 2019

Italy election: Salvini wins landslide victory – threatens to bring down fragile coalition | World | News

Donatella Tesei, a senator for the League, who was also backed by the far-right Brothers of Italy and former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, won the top seat as governor with 57.6 per of the votes. The result restores impetus to Mr Salvini after a political blunder led to his party losing a spot in the country’s national government this summer.

The hard-right leader walked out of the ruling coalition his party had formed with the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement in August, expecting to trigger a national election that polls predicted he would win.

Five-Star promptly hooked up with the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) and shunted Salvini into opposition.

But the new 5-Star/PD alliance failed its first electoral test in Umbria as Vincenzo Bianconi, leader of the civic alliance backed by the two parties, garnered only 37.5 percent of the votes.

Ms Tesei said there was a “a lot of work” ahead and vowed to relaunch the local economy by tackling unemployment and dedicating resources to reconstruction in the region after an earthquake struck three years ago.

She said: “We must reverse the trend, revise expenses and free up resources that must be invested to improve the quality of services for citizens and companies.”

Mr Salvini defined the victory – the eighth in a row for the centre-right in regional ballots since the last national election in March 2018 – as a “chapter in history”.

As the scale of the Ms Tesei’s victory became apparent he told reporters: “We are writing history here tonight.”

And he said the current government was “unauthorised” and warned its time was running out.

But premier Giuseppe Conte was quoted as saying that it would be a mistake for his government to stop for the results in a tiny region which represented only 2 percent of the national population.

And although he insisted “this is not a vote on my government,” the disastrous defeat is certain to have major repercussions for the already-fragile coalition faces further tough electoral challenges in the coming months.

The poor southern region of Calabria goes to the polls in December and Emilia Romagna, a northern region with more than four times the population of Umbria and the historic heartland of Italy’s left, votes on January 26.

Opinion polls show the League, with its anti-migrant, anti-tax message, has shed little support since it lost power  nationally, and remains easily Italy’s most popular party, with around 30 percent of the vote.

And while analysts believe the Umbrian defeat will not bring down the government, losing Emilia Romagna could destroy the PD-5Star alliance.

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