M5S perform poorly in local elections

Three out of four regional capitals go to run-off as centre-right and centre-left coalitions return to the fore.

Local elections in Italy on 11 June saw a poor performance by the populist Movimento 5 Stelle (M5S) and the return to the fore of traditional centre-right and centre-left coalitions.

In all, 60.07 per cent of 9.2 million eligible voters cast their ballot in 1,004 municipalities nationwide. This compares to a turnout of over 66 per cent for equivalent elections five years ago.

In Palermo, one of four regional capitals implicated in the vote, incumbent mayor Leoluca Orlando won his fifth mandate on the first round.

Instead Genoa, Catanzaro and L’Aquila, respectively the regional capitals of Liguria, Calabria and Abruzzo, have gone to a run-off, with the second-round voting to be held on 25 June.

In Genoa, the native city of M5S leader Beppe Grillo currently administered by the centre-left, the competition is between centre-right candidate Marco Bucci, who took 38.8 per cent of the vote on the first round, and centre-left candidate Gianni Crivello, who polled 33.4 per cent. M5S candidate Luca Pirondini, who looked to be a strong candidate in the run-up to the election, polled just over 18 per cent.

In L’Aquila the centre-left looks set to retain power after its candidate Americo Benedetto showed a strong performance with 47 per cent in the first round. He now faces centre-right candidate Pierluigi Biondi (35.9 per cent) in the run-off.

In Catanzaro, the race is between centre-right candidate Sergio Abramo (39.9 per cent) and the centre left’s Vincenzo Ciconte (30.9 per cent).

In Parma, another major city to have gone to the second round, incumbent mayor Fabio Pizzarotti faces centre-left candidate Paolo Scarpa. Pizzarotti was elected in 2012 with M5S before being expelled from the movement and he is now running as an independent candidate on the civic list Effetto Parma.

The results come against a backdrop of political chaos following the collapse of a deal on electoral reform between the Partito Democratico (PD) of former prime minister Matteo Renzi, Silvio Berlusconi’s centre-right Forza Italia and the M5S.

The agreement provided for a new German-style system of proportional representation with an entry bar set at 5 per cent and no winner’s bonus to replace the 2015 Italicum law introduced under Renzi’s government and subsequently deemed to be unconstitutional.

Renzi, who has recently been reconfirmed as PD secretary, was hoping for new legislation to be approved by early July so early elections could be held in the autumn.

This now looks unlikely. The current parliamentary term is due to end in February 2018.