Center-left candidate Stefano Bonaccini meets the media after polls closed in a regional election for the region of Emilia Romagna, in Bologna, Italy, late Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020. Nearly complete results Monday, Jan. 27, 2020, of balloting for the governorship of the prosperous Emilia-Romagna region had the League's candidate some 8 percentage points behind the 51.4 percent garnered in Sunday's balloting, by the incumbent governor, of the center-left Democrats, Bonaccini. (Massimo Paolone/LaPresse via AP)

Italy's regional voters thwart hopes of right-wing forces

January 27, 2020 - 4:22 am

ROME (AP) — Italian voters have thwarted right-wing opposition leader Matteo Salvini's hopes of turning an election in a key northern region into a springboard for regaining national power.

Nearly complete results Monday of Sunday's election for the governorship of the prosperous Emilia-Romagna region had his League party candidate winning only 43.7 % support to the 51.4% garnered by the incumbent governor from the center-left Democrats.

The Democrats are in Italy's national coalition government led by Premier Giuseppe Conte.

But the big loser in that regional vote was the populist 5-Star Movement, which is Conte's main coalition partner. The 5-Stars, who are the largest party in Italy's national Parliament, tanked at some 3.5% of the vote. Their poor showing, the latest slump in fortunes since their triumph in the 2018 national election, could likely worsen infighting in the 5-Stars and weaken their clout in Conte's government.

In southern Calabria, the only other Italian region voting Sunday, a center-right candidate triumphed on a ticket that was backed by Salvini's anti-migrant League party, the far-right Brothers of Italy party and the conservatives of former Premier Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia party.

Salvini on Monday sought to put a positive spin on his candidate's defeat in Emilia-Romagna, saying he did remarkably well in a region that for decades has been a stronghold of the left. Salvini himself had campaigned incessantly there, practically eclipsing his candidate's visibility.

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