Italy right-wing parties rocked by scandals ahead of local elections

Italian cities vote for new mayors in local elections on 3-4 October.

Italy's two main right-wing political parties, the Lega and the Fratelli d'Italia (FdL), have both been embroiled in separate scandals just days before local elections.

The Lega, led by Matteo Salvini, was the first to face a bombshell after the party leader's trusted social media guru Luca Morisi resigned amid a sex and drugs scandal last week.

Morisi, 48, was placed under investigation for the alleged possession and sale of drugs, before facing allegations that he hired two Romanian male prostitutes for 12 hours, allegedly supplying them with GHB drugs and cocaine.

The Lega scandal was followed by an explosive investigative report by Fanpage, aired on Italian television programme Piazzapulita on Thursday night, uncovering alleged money laundering and illicit financing involving senior FdL figures and their associates in Milan.

Party leader Giorgia Meloni, furious over the timing of the programme, has demanded to see the "full 100 hours" of footage which includes explicit racist, fascist and sexist jokes as well as anti-Semitic comments and references to Hitler.

The scandals come as five major Italian cities - Rome, Milan, Naples, Turin and Bologna - prepare to elect new mayors and city councillors in municipal elections.

Some 12 million residents in more than 1,000 Italian towns and cities will be eligible to vote in the elections which are being held on 3-4 October.

The centre-right alliance, comprising the Lega, FdL and Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia, are backing candidates in each of the five big cities, including Enrico Michetti in Rome.

Michetti is challenging the capital's outgoing mayor Virginia Raggi of the populist Movimento 5 Stelle (M5S), who also faces competition from Roberto Gualtieri of the PD (centre-left), Azione leader Carlo Calenda, and 18 other candidates.