Center-left wins the runoff elections for the Italian mayor as the right flounder

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  • Ex-Economy Minister Gualtieri elected as the new Mayor of Rome
  • Promise to turn capital into “ecological champions”
  • Left wins Italy’s four largest cities, record low voter turnout
  • Voting is a setback for right-wing leaders Salvini and Meloni

ROME, October 18 (Reuters) – The center-left candidates have won resounding victories in the mayoral elections in Rome and Turin, as the results on Monday showed and swept aside the center-right opponents in a record-low turnout.

The Sunday and Monday votes complete a round of center-left triumphs in Italy’s largest cities and mark a setback for the right-wing alliance, which is nonetheless a favorite to win the next national election in 2023.

The center-left candidates had easily won Milan, Naples and Bologna two weeks ago without a runoff. Continue reading

In Rome, the former Minister of Economic Affairs Roberto Gualtieri from the Democratic Party (PD) is said to win with 60 to 40 percent against Enrico Michetti from the right.

“I will not disappoint you … now we are beginning a task of extraordinary intensity to revitalize Rome,” Gualtieri told reporters, promising to make the city “a champion of ecological change”.

He is faced with the arduous task of solving the capital’s most chronic problems, including arbitrary garbage collection and a ramshackle and inadequate public transport system.

Most Romans seem to believe that no one can turn the city around, with only 41% bothering to cast a vote.

In Turin, Stefano Lo Russo from the PD is said to win with 59% to 41% against Paolo Damilano from the right.

Both cities were previously run by the 5-star movement, whose candidates were defeated in the first round.

LOW PARTICIPATION

With the overall turnout below 45%, the results are not expected to have an immediate impact on the stability of Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s government of national unity, analysts say.

Gualtieri, who was three points behind in the first round, appears to have garnered the most votes from those who backed the first-round losers – outgoing mayor of 5-star Virginia Raggi and Carlo Calenda, an independent centrist.

The results dealt a blow to Matteo Salvini and Giorgia Meloni, the respective leaders of the right-wing league and brothers of Italy who, according to recent opinion polls, dominate a nationally leading conservative alliance.

The right bloc, which includes Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, draws most of its support from small towns and villages, and analysts say it could be misleading to draw national conclusions from the mayor’s votes.

“Right-wing voters tend to mobilize more in national elections than local ones,” said pollster Antonio Noto of the Opinio consortium.

Lorenzo De Sio, professor of politics at LUISS University in Rome, said Meloni and Salvini’s tough policies have put off many wealthy, moderate voters.

“Brothers of Italy have fueled the flames of anti-vaccination protesters while the league has been ambiguous in its support for Draghi’s government. None of the measures appear to have paid off,” he said.

The next general election turns into a battle between the right and a center-left bloc led by the PD and the 5-star movement.

Along with other cities at stake in the mayor’s runoff elections, the right stuck to the northeastern port of Trieste, but lost Varese, near the Swiss border, in an area where Salvini’s league has its historical roots.

Reporting by Gavin Jones and Angelo Amante, editing by Crispian Balmer and Andrew Heavens

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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