Italy’s right wing Northern League seeks comeback in regional election

Italy will hold elections in eight regions today. The vote is expected to be a bellwether for the national popularity

italy election

Photo: Gianni Cipriano/NYT

Italy will hold elections in eight regions today.

The vote is expected to be a bellwether for the national popularity of opposition leader Matteo Salvini, who heads the right-wing, anti-migrant Northern League party.

Six of the eight regions are currently held by the centre-left ruling Democratic Party. In two regions—the traditionally leftist Emilia-Romagna in the north and the secessionist Calabria in the south—polls show Salvini’s right-wingers favoured over the Democratic Party. Should the Northern League win in these traditionally hostile territories, it would demonstrate the ability of the party to expand its presence beyond its northern right-wing strongholds.

Northern League success in Emilia-Romagna will give Salvini major momentum to call for early elections. It is also likely to significantly damage the electoral credibility of Democratic Prime Minister Guiseppe Conte’s ruling coalition with the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S).

The government faced further pressure after M5S leader Luigi di Maio resigned last week, partly over internal disputes over falling poll numbers. However, a loss today would also mean Conte’s government—whose term runs out in 2023—will be less willing to call early elections. The most likely scenario under which early elections would be called is an M5S departure from the coalition government.

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