Tue, Oct 29, 2019 - Page 6 News List

Italian opposition triumphs in Umbria polls

AFP, ROME

Donatella Tesei, left, center-right coalition candidate for governor of the region of Umbria, celebrates with Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini in Perugia, Italy, late on Sunday.

Photo: AP

Italy’s opposition alliance yesterday celebrated victory in Umbria, dealing a blow to the nation’s ruling coalition.

Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini had vowed to win the hilly region prized for its truffles and prosciutto in the first of several key region elections he hopes will sweep him back to power.

Salvini said the results of Sunday’s vote were “extraordinary,” expressing his “joy and emotion” after Donatella Tesei won with more than 57 percent, compared to 37 percent for the coalition government’s candidate.

It was Salvini’s League party that had swept the board, bringing home 37 percent of the vote alone in a region that has voted left for 70 years, but has been hit hard by an economic crisis.

Salvini’s campaign trail allies — the Brothers of Italy and former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia — won 10 percent and 5.8 percent respectively.

The government coalition of the Five Star Movement and the Democratic Party — former foes — had joined forces for the regional vote in a bid to beat Salvini, but came up short.

The Democratic Party won 22 percent, but the Five Star Movement took home just 7.4 percent — a pitiful result that shook the party to its core.

Salvini said the “days are numbered” for Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and the coalition party leaders, who are accused of having betrayed Italians by forming an alliance to prevent Italy heading to elections they would likely lose.

“The center-right has the right and duty to govern the country,” Berlusconi said after the Umbria win, while Brothers of Italy head Giorgia Meloni said: “If I were Conte, I’d hand in my resignation faster than light.”

Political analysts had said a poor result for the Five Star Movement could spark an internal rebellion within it by those who were against the tie-up with the Democratic Party, or those who want Five Star Movement leader Luigi di Maio gone.

“We always considered the civil pact for Umbria to be a test, but the experiment did not work,” the Five Star Movement said on Facebook.

It said a tie-up with the Democratic Party at other regional votes was now in question, but brushed off suggestions that the coalition government could be brought down by the Umbria loss.

The Democratic Party said that it had been hampered at the ballot box by a health sector scandal: Umbria governor and Democratic Party member Catiuscia Marini quit in April following a probe into competitive exams for the hiring of hospital staff.

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