Italy’s centre-left won a series of key victories in the second round of local elections, including in the traditionally conservative city of Verona, where a former international footballer was elected mayor.
The poll was the last major test of the strength of political parties ahead of next year’s general election.
Monday’s results showed a centre-left coalition led by Democratic Party candidates won seven of 13 provincial capitals, making inroads in some of the far-right League’s northern strongholds.
The biggest gain was in Verona, where Damiano Tommasi, who played for AS Roma and the Italian national team in the 1990s and early 2000s, snatched victory from incumbent mayor Federico Sboarina. who was a member of the League before moving on to the rival. Brothers from Italy.
Verona was declared an anti-abortion city under Sboarina’s five-year leadership, with measures introduced to fund anti-choice groups. The city, often seen as a laboratory for the far right, also hosted a conference of the World Congress of Families (WCF), a global coalition backed by the American Christian right, in 2019.
“It’s a historic result for Verona,” said Tommasi, who set out to celebrate the Stelvio Pass, the second-highest cobbled mountain pass in Europe, by bike. “We put ourselves in the game and we won, demonstrating that politics can be done without insults or responses to provocations. Our political proposal has turned the page of Verona.
Another surprise victory for the left came in Monza, the home of former prime minister and Forza Italia leader Silvio Berlusconi. A coalition candidate also prevailed in the Piedmontese town of Alessandria, taking it from the League, as well as from Parma, Cuneo and Catanzaro.
“This result strengthens us for the future, in building a center-left bloc that will also be a winner at the national level, in the political elections next year,” said the leader of the Democratic Party, Enrico Letta.
Divisions within the right-wing coalition, including the League, Brothers of Italy and Forza Italia, were mainly blamed for the alliance’s losses in the second round, particularly in Verona, where Sboarina was supported by the Brothers of Italy and the League but not by Forza Italia.
The growing influence of Brothers of Italy leader Giorgia Meloni and the eroding popularity of his League counterpart Matteo Salvini are also destabilizing the once close-knit group. Brothers of Italy is currently considered the largest party in Italy, ahead of the Democratic Party. The Brothers of Italy mayoral candidates won in Palermo from the left in the first round of local elections two weeks ago, and in L’Aquila on Sunday.
However, the party should unite with the League and Forza Italia to win the general election.
“I’m going to ask for a meeting with Salvini and Berlusconi, we have to remember that our opponent is the left,” Meloni said.