ROME – Centre-left relief

The Democratic Party (PD) breathed a sigh of relief as the attempt of right-wing leader Matteo Salvini to take over the “red” Emilia-Romagna failed. Pushed by the ‘sardines’ movement, PD candidate Stefano Bonaccini defeated Lega’s Borgonzoni in crucial regional elections, limiting the pressure on the government coalition from Salvini.

Read also: Emilia Romagna voters upset Salvini’s plan to trigger early elections

In the other regional elections in Calabria, the centre-right coalition crushed the centre-left by more than 55% to 30%.

Salvini, who has placed great emphasis on these elections as a call for overthrowing the government, downplayed the setback. Five Star Movement keeps having a rough time, meanwhile, almost disappearing from the competition in both regions. This will probably strengthen the role of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte within the anti-establishment party, also thanks to Luigi Di Maio’s resignation as leader.

Lega and PD are neck-and-neck as the leading parties in the region, part of a re-emerging two-party battle in the country. The turnout in Emilia-Romagna doubled compared to 2014, showing either the impact of the ‘sardines’ grassroots movement or a general call to the polls against Salvini from those who abstained in 2014.

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