Analysis. Salvini is calling for a ‘local’ vote. But the 2019 administrative elections were a flop for the right.

Lega hopes for a second wave in Tuscany, but there was never a first

“A vote by Tuscans, for Tuscans,” has been Matteo Salvini’s message for days, incessantly repeating the point that the vote in the Tuscany regional elections on Sunday and Monday must focus on local issues, the problems of the territory, and not on national ones.

However, it was precisely on local issues that the Lega leader suffered a defeat in Tuscany in May 2019, where out of the 187 municipalities that had elections, both large and small, scattered in every corner of the region, the center-left alliance led by the PD won 147 of them, including all the most important ones, leaving only scraps for the right, prominently led by the Lega.

That was during the months when Salvini was Minister of the Interior in the yellow-green government, boisterous and affecting the tone of a crusader against the European Union and immigrants. It was a strategy that worked for the European elections, where the Lega, with 31.5%, came close to the Democratic Party at 33.3%. However, on the same day, about two-thirds of Tuscany voted very differently in the municipal elections.

The most striking example was Prato, the third-largest city in central Italy with about 200,000 inhabitants, where the League saw its 34.5% in the European elections reduced to 22.8% in the municipal elections, while the PD substantially maintained its percentage, 32%. And at the coalition level, the right-wing alliance didn’t manage to top 35%, while the PD and allies reached 47%. All this with a turnout that exceeded 68%, both in Prato and in the rest of Tuscany.

Such a turnout seems unattainable on Sunday, and not only due to the COVID factor, given that the two elections won by Enrico Rossi had a turnout of 60.7% in 2010, and just 48.3% in 2015, when the voting took place on only one day. According to the experts, a low turnout generally favors the incumbent (the center-left led by Eugenio Giani), while a strong turnout may prove to be an advantage for the right and its candidate, the Lega’s Susanna Ceccardi.

Similarly, according to those who have studied past elections, if one fails to win in Florence and its large and populous province, it is impossible for them to win the government of Tuscany. In this case as well, the results from last year speak volumes. In the provincial capital, with almost 400,000 inhabitants, Dario Nardella was confirmed as mayor in the first round with more than 57% of the votes, while the right could only manage a pitiful 25%. At the same time, the Lega & co. earned as much as 6% more support in the votes for the European elections. They were defeated in the first round anyway, but with a slightly less disastrous result.

It was a similar story in the eleven municipalities of Empolese Valdelsa, in the heart of the region, where PD and its center-left allies ran the table in the municipal elections, almost always in the first round—while, at the same time, the European election results saw the Lega resurgent.

Even on the coast, usually considered a reliable source of votes for Susanna Ceccardi, the results in Livorno, the third Tuscan city in terms of inhabitants, just behind Prato, saw the Lega go from 29.3% at the European elections to 20.3% at the municipal elections held on the same day (26.7% together with the right wing coalition), while the Democratic Party was stable at 30-32% in both votes. There was no vote for the municipal elections in Pisa, which went to the Lega and allies in 2018, but where the 2019 European vote brought the PD back on top with 34.6%, with a hypothetical center-left alliance at over 42%, four points ahead of the right led by the Lega at 27.3%.

This time, the only wildcard for the vote on Sunday and Monday will be the factor represented by the constitutional referendum. However, both Eugenio Giani and Susanna Ceccardi, together, naturally, with the M5S candidate for regional president, Irena Galletti, have already declared their support for “Yes.” Thus, the only institutionally represented political force in the Regional Council that will vote “No” in the referendum will be Tommaso Fattori’s Toscana a Sinistra.

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