Italy's ruling center-right coalition and its leader, Prime Minister Silvo Berlusconi, suffered a series of defeats in local elections and national referendums held over the past few months. In an email interview, Guido Legnante, an associate professor of political science at the University of Pavia, discussed Italy's political landscape.
WPR: What explains Italy's swing to the left in the recent local elections?
Guido Legnante: In order to understand the dynamics of the recent Italian local -- towns and provinces -- elections, it is necessary to consider that they were held in two rounds. The first round, on May 15-16, frustrated the center-right's expectations of a win in the key towns of Milan and Naples. Due to political turmoil confronting the government and Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, as well as the unpopularity of some of the candidates, such as the incumbent mayor of Milan, Letizia Moratti, abstensionism heavily affected the center-right. Center-left candidates, however, were able to mobilize a very large part of their voters.