Today, tens of thousands of protesters will demonstrate against Matteo Salvini, the leader of the right-wing Northern League.
Demonstrations began on November 14 after Salvini claimed that he will win the Emilia-Romagna regional election to be held on January 26. Protesters are especially fearful of Salvini’s strong anti-taxation and anti-immigration policies.
Recent polls for the election show Italy’s governing coalition, led by the centre-left Democratic Party and 5 Star Movement (M5S), only slightly ahead of the Northern League. Though Emilia-Romagna has been a left-wing stronghold for decades, the same could have been said of Umbria before the Northern League won regional elections there in October.
Salvini cut his party’s national coalition ties with M5S in August in a failed attempt to trigger national elections and win the premiership. While Umbria accounts for only about 1% of Italy’s population, Salvini has pointed to its October election as proof that the national coalition is unrepresentative of Italy, hoping to retain his party’s supporters nationwide.
Given that Emilia-Romagna has four times the population of Umbria, and that it is a traditional bastion of left-wing support, a Salvini victory there would strengthen his calls for early elections, while straining the newly-formed Democratic Party–M5S coalition.
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Saira is an analyst in the Current Developments team, where she focuses her research on the Middle East and North Africa region.