The polls on the eve of the elections in Sardinia got it wrong after all. There was no close contest between the center-right and center-left, but an easy victory by Salvini and company with a resounding 48 percent, and a dignified defeat for the center-left with 33 percent.
The extraordinary collapse of the Five Star Movement proved too much to handle for the exit polls, which were predicting a result of just below 20 percent for the M5S. Actually, they were down to 9 percent for their list and 11 percent for their librarian candidate for regional president. A great decline compared to the 42 percent the M5S got in this region in the 2018 national elections, but a result that brought them their first seats in the regional council, given that in 2014, at the previous regional elections, there were no Five Star lists (nor, indeed, any Lega lists).
In the current context, it’s not surprising that the newspaper headlines today are not just recording the M5S’s clamorous defeat, but are singing the party’s dirges: “dying,” “massacre,” “shipwreck,” “crash,” “collapse.”
The third of our initial observations concerns the increase in turnout, which was at over 50 percent: the protest of the shepherds didn’t lead to any widespread boycott of the vote.
In some ways, these administrative elections seem to be a repeat of the recent ones in Abruzzo: Salvini singlehandedly pulling the weight of the center-right (albeit with less force than in the Abruzzo result), and the center-left trying to prove it still exists and is alive: the lists supporting the young mayor Zedda have gotten over 20 percent, and the Democratic Party, which has lost two points compared to last year’s national elections and has almost halved its 2014 haul, is at nearly 13 percent. Zedda does not belong to the Democratic Party, but to that fragmented field on the left that includes parties ranging from LeU (4 percent) to Sardegna in comune and the Campo progressista, all the way to the Progetto comunista (0.4 percent).
The numbers are still jittery, but forces are starting to join together all across Italy on the arduous and grueling path to a resurgence. One can interpret this result as both a hope and a warning. If people instead try to merely replicate previous models (in Abruzzo as in Sardinia), if the Democratic Party changes its leader but fails to change its policies (from the TAV to labor market reforms), then this mouthful of oxygen will soon run out, and no resuscitation maneuver will be able to save the prospect of an alternative to the current right-wing bloc.