Rome mayor may fail second round

ROME (AP) – Italian center-left forces, led by Democrats, claimed victory on Monday in Milan and other mayoral races in major cities while securing a second-round berth in Rome, where the Mayor of the 5-star populist movement Virginia Raggi has faced a stinging defeat, according to the partial vote count and projections.

The 5 stars, currently the largest party in Parliament, also failed to win a second round in Turin city hall, where one of their own has been mayor since 2016, with nearly 40% of the ballots counted.

In Rome and Turin, 5-star leaders had rejected overtures from the Democratic Party to join an electoral alliance to fight right-wing forces and chose to run solo. Where the two forces teamed up, candidates backed by Democrats and 5 stars appeared to be heading for resounding victories.

“You win where you expand the coalition,” said Democratic Party leader Enrico Letta, citing the straightforward victories of the common ticket in Naples and Bologna.

Letta tried to convince the 5-Stars to embrace campaign alliances for a nationwide vote for Parliament in early 2023. He is determined to exclude from the next Italian government the right-wing forces that have gained popularity in these countries. last years. , especially in the races for governor and especially the anti-migrant party of the League led by Matteo Salvini.

Separately, Letta, a former prime minister, won a seat in the Lower Chamber of Deputies in a by-election in Siena to fill a vacant post.

Milan mayor Giuseppe Sala, center-left leader and supporter of the Europe Greens party, claimed a decisive victory for a second term on the basis of partial results indicating he would get 56% of the vote in Italy’s finance capital and fashion. Luca Bernardo, a Milanese pediatrician who was Salvini’s candidate, lagged behind, with 33.4%.

Salvini’s ambition is to win the post of prime minister of a center-right government he hopes to form after the next Italian parliamentary elections.

But with victories in Milan, Naples and Bologna and places in the municipal elections in Rome and Turin, “we have shown that the center-right is beatable,” Letta told his supporters.

If the projections are confirmed, the second round of the town hall of Rome will pit Democrat Roberto Gualtieri, former Minister of Finance, against Enrico Michetti, a radio commentator selected by Giorgia Meloni, who heads the far-right Brotherhood of Italy party. . Meloni and Salvini are unofficial rivals for the next prime ministerial post.

Prime Minister Mario Draghi, an economist who once headed the European Central Bank, currently heads a pandemic unity government that includes Letta’s Democratic Party, Salvini’s League as well as the 5-star and smaller parties.

One key to winning the Rome mayor’s second round will be to court the support of Raggi’s disappointed supporters. The 5 Star Movement has been feuding for months, including between the left and right factions.

With ballots counted in 23% of constituencies, Michetti led with nearly 31% of the vote and Gualtieri nearly 27%. Raggi was excluded from the second round with just under 20%, with Carlo Calenda, a former centrist minister who won 17.3%. The projections suggested a similar final finish.

Yet six hours after the polls closed, Raggi was not conceding.

“I would say this: let’s wait for final data,” said Raggi, quoted by LaPresse, an Italian news agency.

When Raggi won in 2016, she inherited Rome’s entrenched problems: unreliable garbage collection, public transport issues, and streets in dire need of repairs. These woes largely persisted during his tenure. The new leader of the 5 Star Movement, former Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, campaigned for her.

“Rome can be reborn” and well governed, Gualtieri told supporters on Monday evening.

Michetti expressed his satisfaction with leading.

“Today the city stands still when it comes to potholes, upkeep of green spaces” and other issues, he said, referring to Rome’s many poorly paved streets and to weeds at waist height in parks.

In total, 12 million of Italy’s 60 million people were eligible to vote in 1,000 towns and villages across the country, but turnout, at just under 55%, was down 7% from in the last municipal elections in 2016.

Salvini’s League results in races in southern Italy were being watched closely as a litmus test of whether he could convincingly expand his north-based political power into a national force. Its candidate in Naples, the largest city in the south, obtained around 20% of the vote, far behind the winning candidate supported by the Democrats and the 5 stars who collected 65.5% of the vote, according to the partial returns.

But a center-right candidate backed by former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has triumphed in the race for sole governor in the southern region of Calabria. Roberto Occhiuto, businessman whip in the Chamber of Deputies of Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party, won 54.7% of the vote, against 28.4% for the center-left challenger, with ballots counted in 40% of the polling stations.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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