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.
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.