Some 3.1 million Italians in the region of Emilia Romagna around Bologna were supposed to elect their local administrators on Sunday, November 23. Emilia Romagna is a traditional stronghold for Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s Democratic Party (PD) and these elections were seen as a good test of his leadership and performance as prime minister, writes Professor Enrico Colombatto.
Mr Renzi failed the test. First, only 38 per cent of the electorate went to the polls. This compares with a 75.2 per cent turnout at the general election in 2013 and demonstrates that Italians are sick and tired of their political class.
Although the PD remains the strongest party, it dropped from 1.2 million votes in the May 2014 European elections to a mere 535,000. Beppe Grillo’s Five Star Movement also performed badly, dropping from 445,000 to 160,000 votes.
Two other remarkable results showed former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia or Forward Italy party was almost wiped out with 8.4 per cent of the votes, while the Northern League was the real winner, taking an almost 20 per cent share of the votes.
The result has proved that Prime Minister Renzi is weak, Beppe Grillo’s opposition is no longer credible and Matteo Salvini, leader of the Northern League, has become a serious candidate to replace Silvio Berlusconi and lead the right.
Regrettably, Mr Salvini is another populist with very little content. Fortunately there is no Benito Mussolini around. He would carry the day instantly.