Italian mayoral run-offs to centre-left and right flounder as the center-right loses
- Summary of the following information
- Former Economy Minister Gualtieri has been elected to the office of Rome's mayor.
- Promises to transform capital into an 'ecological champion'
- Italian four-city lead over left in major cities, record low turnout.
- Salvini and Meloni's resignation as rightist leaders is a major setback for Salveni.
Candidates from the centre-left won resounding victories in mayoral elections in Rome and Turin, according to results on Monday, sweeping aside centre right opponents in the face of a record-low turnout.
The votes on Sunday and Monday complete a series of centre-left victories in Italy's biggest cities and mark nascent for the rightist alliance, which is nevertheless favourite to win the next national election due in 2023.
Milan, Naples, and Bologna were already easily won without a run-off two weeks ago.
Roberto Gualtieri, the former Economy Minister of the Democratic Party (PD), was projected to beat Enrico Michetti, a right-winger who was behind by 60 percent to 40 percent in Rome, an impregnable lead with the count still in progress.
"I won't disappoint you... now we begin a task of extraordinary intensity to relaunch Rome," Gualtieri told reporters, promising to make the city "a champion of the ecological transition".
He must overcome the capital's most pressing challenges, such as haphazard trash collection and a deteriorating and insufficient public transportation system, to solve the city' s dreaded problems.
Most Romans are convinced that nobody can turn the city around, with only 41% of the population bothering to cast a vote.
Stefano Lo Russo, the PD's Stefan LoRusci, was expected to win by 59% to 41% in Turin against Paolo Damilano (the right).
Both cities were previously run by the 5-Star Movement, whose candidates were defeated in the first round.
With a voter turnout below 45%, the results are unlikely to have immediate repercussions on Prime Minister Mario Draghi's national unity government, according to analysts.
Gualtieri, who lags by three points after the first ballot, appears to have won the majority of the votes of those who opposed the fifth-round losers - 5-Star's outgoing mayor Virginia Raggi and Carlo Calenda, an independent centrist.
Matteo Salvini and Giorgia Meloni, who control the right-wing League and Brothers of Italy, a conservative coalition that, according to recent opinion polls, leads at national level, suffered terribly as the results came in.
However, the right-wing bloc, which includes Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia, receives most of its support from small towns and villages, and some analysts argue that it may be misleading to draw national conclusions from the mayoral elections.
According to pollster Antonio Noto of the Opinio Consortium, "rightwing voters tend to mobilise more at national elections than at local ones."
Lorenzo De Sio, a politics professor at Rome's LUISS university, said Meloni and Salvini' repressive policies had stifled many well-off, moderate voters.
"Brothers of Italy has sparked the flames of anti-vaccination protesters, while the League has been ambiguous in its support for Draghi's administration. "Neither approach seems to have paid off," he added.
The next parliamentary election is set to be a battle between the right and reformed centre-left bloc headed by the PD and the 5-Star Movement.
The center won the northeastern port Trieste, but lost Varese, near the Swiss border, in an area where Salvini's League has its historic roots.