Regional elections undermine Berlusconi-Renzi axis

Prime Minister Renzi’s party won the local elections in Emilia Romagna and Calabria, something which had been widely predicted. Mr Berlusconi scored the worst results in his political history, but in general there was a very low turnout, something which is unusual in Italy and is alarming for Mr Renzi for various reasons.

First of all, Mr Renzi had tried to inject some enthusiasm in the apathetic Italian public, apparently with no success. Secondly, Emilia Romagna has been for decades a fief of his Democratic Party, and a low turnout in that region is nearly shocking. Thirdly, the low turnout did not affect the rightist Northern League, which under its leader Matteo Salvini is quickly becoming Mr Renzi’s main opponent. Finally, Mr Renzi’s reforms are based on political agreements with Mr Berlusconi, who is now under fire within his own party whose hardline wing, headed by Mr Raffaele Fitto, wants to interrupt any cooperation with Mr Renzi.

Moreover, what has been described as a Pyrrhic victory will strengthen the internal opposition within the Democratic Party, made of leftist MPs who never fully stomached Mr Renzi.


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