Victory Of The Center-left In Italy: Four Keys To Understanding The Results Of The Municipal Elections

Victory of the center-left in Italy: four keys to understanding the results of the municipal elections

Italy has chosen to abandon political experiments in the first major electoral test after the pandemic and with Mario Draghi as prime minister. The second round of municipal elections in which a quarter of Italians were called to vote, including those from the country’s five main cities – Rome, Milan, Naples, Bologna and Turin – has left few surprises and has raised candidates traditional and little adventure lovers.

The ballottaggio, the second round of the local elections, has confirmed the victory of candidates from the center-left of the Democratic Party (PD) in Rome and Turin, after the triumphs in the other three localities in the first round.


Despite the fact that the cities where people voted are usually bastions of the left, the results certified the return to moderate options.

In Rome and Turin, Roberto Gualtieri and Stefano Lo Russo will replace, respectively, Virgina Raggi and Chiara Appendino, two mayors of the 5 Star Movement (MS) who represented the rupturism when they took power five years ago.

In addition to losing power in these two important cities, the elections have been a shipwreck for the grillini –The name given to the members of the M5S–, disoriented and entangled in internal struggles since Giuseppe Conte resigned as prime minister to make way for Draghi. At the moment, Conte is not hitting the button and the municipal officials confirm that the party is going down, as the polls have announced for months.

Sources from Conte’s current team tell that the former prime minister has the perception that the brand cinquestelle It remains for him to achieve his future political aspirations and that it would have been better to promote a new party with him as the main figure. In the summer, Conte and Beppe Grillo, founder and spiritual leader of the formation, got into a discussion for the leadership of the party that almost ended in a rupture. “In this campaign, people who approached Conte praised him more for having been the prime minister during the toughest moments of the pandemic than for being the current leader of the party,” say these same sources.

The right and the far right are the other great defeats of these elections, especially the leader of the League Matteo Salvini, who increasingly has more difficulties to control his party, although at the moment no one questions his leadership due to the lack of profiles alternative.

However, the local nature of the elections, the extremely high abstention rate and the terrible candidates – unknown or media with no political experience – chosen by the alliance of right-wing parties that make up the League, Fratelli d ‘Italia and Forza Italia make it necessary to add an asterisk to this defeat.

The right remains the favorite for a future general election, and Fratelli d’Italia leader Georgia Meloni appears to be profiting from being the only party to oppose Draghi’s technocratic government of national unity. Salvini’s strategy of trying to be in the government and the opposition at the same time is not serving to prevent Meloni from closing the gap in the polls. If La Liga and Fratelli d’Italia were separated by eight points at the beginning of the year, polls now reflect a technical tie with around 20% in voting intention, with Meloni’s party on the rise.

Both Salvini and Meloni refuse to acknowledge that the defeat in the five major cities forces them to reflect, but it seems clear that the Italians have given them a wake-up call about the current low appetite for shrillness and extremism.

The PD, the great winner, has based its strategy on trying to be the political party that most identifies with Draghi, which has broad support among Italians, although the former president of the European Central Bank has not made it easy at times.

Under former Prime Minister Enrico Letta, the Democratic Party appears to have found the lull that is making it regain ground among voters after years of being baffled by other options in the left’s orbit, such as the M5S. PD sources say that the good moment of their party can be explained as part of the “social democratic wave” that they believe is sweeping Europe, but it may also be due to the fact that “the pandemic has made people abandon populisms” and return to more experienced and predictable options.

Prime Minister Mario Draghi could also represent that profile of a more discreet and professional ruler. In these elections there is no sign of wear and tear on his Executive and, therefore, it is understood that he comes out stronger. The enigmatic Draghi has been forced to reduce the intense pace of reforms and changes that he has followed since his arrival in Government because the parties were not for the job and he hopes to get back on the right track to secure European funds.

The next big date for Italian politics will be the election in Parliament of the President of the Republic next February, which also determines the degree of cooperation of the parties with the prime minister. The game will be difficult to read and It is not ruled out that Draghi himself is the one chosen to occupy that position. In Italy, it is speculated that, if it were the case, Draghi would take advantage of it to give a new role to the position, less institutional and more executive. Prime ministers in Italy typically last a year and a half and burn out easily, while presidents serve a seven-year term. And Draghi seems to want to avoid getting burned at all costs.



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