Low voter turnout across the country.
The anti-establishment Movimento 5 Stelle (M5S) claimed a “historic result” in the first round of voting in local elections on 5 June, with a particularly strong performance in Rome and Turin.
In the capital M5S Virginia Raggi took over 35 per cent of the vote according to results from 2,477 out of 2,600 polling stations.
This was around 10 per cent more than her closest rival Roberto Giachetti of the governing Partito Democratico (PD), but short of the 50 per cent plus one vote needed for outright victory.
Giorgia Meloni of the small right-wing party Fratelli d’Italia (FdI) backed by the Lega Nord came a close third with over 20 per cent, trailed by centre-right candidate Alfio Marchini with 11 per cent and Stefano Fassina of the small left-wing party Sinistra Italiana (SI) with 4.5 per cent.
Raggi and Giachetti will now go to a second-round ballot on 19 June in which new political alliances forged in light of Sunday’s vote could be decisive.
Significantly, M5S also pushed the PD into a run-off in the northern city of Turin, where incumbent mayor Piero Fassino, a PD stalwart, polled around 42 per cent and now faces a tough battle against 31-year-old private Bocconi University graduate Chiara Appendino.
In Milan the run-off will be between centre-left candidate Giuseppe Sala and Stefano Parisi of the centre-right.
In Naples the PD candidate Valeria Valente failed to get into the run off and in Bologna, once the heart-land of the left, the PD candidate Virginio Merola, who was expected to win outright, only obtained 40 per cent of the vote and has been forced into a run-off on 19 June with the Lega Nord candidate, Lucia Borgonzoni