Report. Everywhere in elections this weekend, the Lega held seats, and the FdI increased its share. Center-left and regionalist groups struggled to form governments. And the 5 Stars made little showing at all.

Italy’s regional elections were a victory lap for the far right

This weekend’s regional elections in northern Italy brought good news for the right-wingers. In Trento, Maurizio Fugatti (Lega) won a second term as provincial president; in Monza, Adriano Galliani secured the Senate seat that had been Silvio Berlusconi’s. These were clear victories, not close contests, although in Lombardy the turnout remained below 20 percent.

In Alto Adige, there was a conspicuous drop in support for the SVP (the regionalist South Tyrolean People’s Party), which fell from 42 to 34.5 percent and, while still the number one party in the autonomous province, won only 13 out of 35 councilor seats and is struggling to form a new government alliance.

Overall, the electorate gave a boost to FdI, which was the leading Italian-speaking party in Bolzano with 6 percent (it got only 1.7 percent five years ago). The Lega collapsed, dropping from 11 to 3 percent, losing 3 out of 4 councilors.

In Trento, the prime minister’s party increased its support nearly tenfold, from 1.4 to 12 percent, but failed to overtake the Lega, which dropped from 27 to 13 percent, leaving the top position to the PD (at 16.6 percent, up from 13.9 percent in 2018). The Dems kept steady at around 3.5 percent in Bolzano as well, keeping their one seat. It was a good result for the Greens as well (who also had Italian Left on their list): in Alto Adige they rose from 6.8 to 9 percent, keeping their 3 seats. The Left and Greens won one seat in Trentino with 3.2 percent.

The performance of the M5S was poor overall: in Trentino the party ran alone and finished below Marzo Rizzo’s list with only 1.9% (in 2018 they had 7%). They did even worse in South Tyrol: 0.7% and no seats (five years ago they got 2.4%). Forza Italia was already practically nonexistent, with 2% in Trento and 1% in Bolzano, and this time it managed to lose the only seat it had in Trentino. To sum up, there was no shake-up in terms of political balances at the national level: Meloni can claim victory, and so can Salvini, who got his president re-elected.

The PD is among the losers, but the good results of the lists don’t give Schlein’s critics much to grumble about. For Conte, it’s yet another defeat at the local level, which is par for the course for the M5S.

The result in Trento went beyond Fugatti’s expectations: despite his tough path to get the green light to run again (FdI had objected), the Lega provincial president surpassed his 2018 result, going from 46.7 to 51.8 percent. “The Trentino community has appreciated our work,” he said. Meloni congratulated him: “The united center-right brings home another great result.” It was a sigh of relief for Fugatti: Sergio Divina, former capo of the Lega in Trentino since the 1990s, had decided to run against him, but his candidacy flopped with only 2%.

The center-left’s hopes of making a comeback thanks to the divisions among the right were also dashed: their candidate Francesco Valduga, who had resigned as mayor of Rovereto to run for the province, got 37.5 percent. This is better than the figure obtained in 2018 by then-PD candidate Giorgio Tonini (25.4 percent).

Nevertheless, this result comes with strong disappointment: “We failed to make the people of Trentino understand our project for the territory,” Valduga said. “We tried to build a solid and concrete coalition, but it seems it was not enough to convince voters,” said local PD secretary Alessandro Dal Ri.

M5S candidate Alex Marini, who sank like a stone, is lashing out at the national leaders. Meanwhile, FdI is already putting on the pressure to install the number one on its list, Francesca Gerosa, as vice-president: “Agreements must be respected,” was the message sent by the coordinator of Meloni’s party, Alessandro Urzì.

In Bolzano, with an electoral system based on proportional representation, the race is on to come up with a new governing alliance. The SVP has only 13 councilors, and now-outgoing president Arno Kompatscher must decide whether to look to the center-right (3 seats between FdI and the Lega) or to the Greens-PD (4 seats). He would prefer a progressive alliance, but there are strong impulses within the SVP to remain allied with the right (the outgoing coalition was SVP-Lega). Not only in order to have a direct connection to the Prime Minister’s office, but also because the electorate has particularly rewarded right-wing groups (among the German-speaking parties): from the Süd-Tiroler Freiheit party founded by Eva Klotz (who wants the region to return to Austria), with 10.9%, to the list of former Schützen commander Jürgen Wirth Anderlan, who collected 5.9% with anti-migrant and anti-vax slogans.

“It will be difficult to build a stable government,” Kompatscher admitted. He has 90 days to try to do so, and one cannot rule out a return to the polls. “If the governor takes what he said about sustainability and the climate turnaround seriously, we’ll be first in line to talk to him,” Green Party leader Brigitte Foppa offered.

There were no surprises in Monza: local soccer team owner Adriano Galliani beat Marco Cappato of the Italian Radicals, 51.5 to 39.5 percent, for the seat that used to be Berlusconi’s. “His election testifies to the great affection of the people of Brianza for my father,” commented Berlusconi’s daughter Marina. “I did it for Silvio. I would have preferred this seat to still be held by my mentor in life, my guide, my everything,” said Galliani.

There is discontent among the local PD, as local leaders had not liked the decision coming from Rome to back Cappato and believe that a candidate with more ties to the territory would have fared better. There is no shortage of accusations against national bigwigs, from Schlein to Calenda, for not coming to Brianza to campaign. Nevertheless, Cappato did better than the center-left in 2022, which got only 27 percent. “I take responsibility for the defeat,” he said.

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