Rome, Oct 28 (AFP/APP): Early results showed Italy’s right-wing opposition alliance were ahead in a regional election, heralded as a key test for the country’s new left-leaning government.
Firebrand Matteo Salvini is determined to wrest Umbria, a hilly region prized for its truffles and prosciutto, from the left which has governed it for 70 years by capitalising on a health scandal and biting economic crisis.
Late Sunday after the polls closed and counting had begun, Salvini said early results from all over the region were “extraordinary”, expressing his “joy and emotion”.
With around 12 percent of the votes counted, the right’s candidate Donatella Tesei was leading with a 57 percent share, compared with 37.5 percent for the coalition government’s candidate Vincenzo Bianconi.
Full results are due later Monday.
Salvini collapsed Italy’s previous populist government two months ago when he was deputy prime minister in a failed bid to spark a parliamentary election he hoped to win.
He was thwarted by an unexpected tie-up between former foes, the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) and centre-left Democratic Party (PD), which joined forces to stop him.
Salvini has since channelled all his energies into a return to power, allying his anti-immigrant League with the smaller, far-right Brothers of Italy, and former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s centre-right Forza Italia.
The M5S and PD believe running together locally is the only way to stop the right from taking not only Umbria but also key regions such as the left-wing heartland of Emilia-Romagna, which votes early next year.
“If the first experiment of the PD-M5S alliance ends with a League triumph… someone at Palazzo Chigi (the prime minister’s office) should ask themselves why,” Salvini said at a campaign rally.