Italy’s ‘Incoherent’ Coalition Survived Local Elections. Now Can It Govern?

Italy’s ‘Incoherent’ Coalition Survived Local Elections. Now Can It Govern?
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte at a press conference at Chigi Palace, in Rome, Sept. 29, 2020 (AP photo by Gregorio Borgia).

Italy’s largest opposition party, the populist and far-right League, turned in a poor showing in regional and local elections last month. While its center-right coalition prevailed in three of the seven regional governorships that were up for grabs, the League’s candidate lost in traditionally leftist Tuscany, despite predictions of victory by its leader, Matteo Salvini.

Overall, there was no clear winner in last month’s elections, but the center-left Democratic Party, or PD, performed well, as did the neo-fascist Brothers of Italy, which took control of the central Marche region. Salvini, a former deputy prime minister and interior minister who was the bugbear of Europe just a year ago, now risks being eclipsed by two other right-wing figures: Georgia Meloni, the leader of the Brothers of Italy, and Luca Zaia, the League governor of the Venice region, who was reelected by a landslide as a reward for his competent handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a referendum held concurrently with the elections, Italians ratified a constitutional amendment to reduce the size of Parliament, with 70 percent voting in favor. When the next general elections are held, the Chamber of Deputies will shrink from 630 seats to 400, and the Senate from 315 to 200. This measure was championed by the Five Star Movement, or M5S, the largest party in the coalition government headed by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. Leaders of the PD, the junior coalition partner, loyally voted “yes” in the referendum despite having opposed the measure initially.

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