Right-wing parties triumph in Italian regional election in key test ahead of European Parliament vote
Right-wing parties triumphed in a regional election in central Italy on Monday in a contest seen as a key test for the European Parliament elections in May.
A candidate from Brothers of Italy, a small far-Right party backed by the Right-wing League party and Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, won the election in the mountainous Abruzzo region.
After taking around 48 per cent of the vote, Marco Marsilio was elected the new governor of the region, ousting a centre-Left coalition.
The anti-establishment Five Star Movement, which governs with The League at the national level, performed dismally, winning just 20 per cent of votes – half of what it garnered in the region during last year’s general election.
The result will inflame worries within Five Star that it has been eclipsed since forming a coalition with Matteo Salvini’s League last June.
Since then, the pugnacious interior minister has doubled his party’s electoral support while that of Five Star has declined.
With the coalition partners clashing over a wide range of issues, there is speculation that Mr Salvini might choose to ditch Five Star, engineer an election and form a Right-wing coalition, especially if his party performs strongly in May in the European polls.
He dismissed any idea of radical change on Monday, however, saying that the composition of the coalition would not alter.
“Nothing changes for the government – no reshuffle. Work continues,” said Mr Salvini, whose popularity surged after he closed Italian ports to NGO boats rescuing migrants in the Mediterranean.
The minister meanwhile weighed in on Italy’s wildly popular San Remo festival, criticising the winner – a 27-year-old Italian singer called Alessandro Mahmood whose father is Egyptian.
Mr Salvini said he would rather have seen the festival, a popular extravaganza of glitz and schmaltz watched by 10 million viewers, won by a singer called Ultimo, whose real name is Niccolo Moriconi.
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His comment was interpreted by some as an attack on multiculturalism and a snide dig at someone he regards as not being ‘pure’ Italian, despite the fact that Mr Mahmood was born in Milan and describes himself as “100 per cent Italian”.
The minister’s ex-girlfriend, a TV presenter who in November dumped him publicly on social media, took a very different view.
“Mahmood has just won the San Remo festival – showing that the meeting of different cultures produces beauty,” Elisa Isoardi wrote in a tweet.