Martedì, 23 Ottobre 2018

Centre-left resurgence continues in Sicily


(By Paul Virgo)
Rome, June 11 - The centre left has continued its
strong showing in the first mayor round of local elections since
February's national vote with a good performance in Sicily,
results showed on Tuesday.
Candidates representing the centre-left Democratic Party,
which has been hit by internal turmoil after it failed to win
February's general election, took Rome and 10 other provincial
capitals in run-off votes staged Sunday and Monday.
The outcome gave the PD a 16-0 win over ex-premier Silvio
Berlusconi's centre-right alliance when one counts the victories
centre-left candidates sealed in the first round last month by
winning over 50% of the vote - making run-offs unnecessary.
Sicily, meanwhile, held first-round votes for many town and
city councils on Sunday and Monday, including provincial
capitals Catania, Messina, Siracusa and Ragusa.
Former PD Senator Enzo Bianco is the new mayor of Catania,
after claiming just over 50% of the vote in the first round,
while centre-right incumbent Raffaele Stancanelli had around
The centre left's Felice Calabro just missed out on taking
Messina in the first round.
He won 49.94% of the vote%, with Renato Accorinti, the head
of a group opposed to the idea of building a bridge across the
Strait of Messina to connect Sicily to the mainland, second with
Centre-left candidates were also ahead in Siracusa and
Ragusa ahead of run-offs.
Premier Enrico Letta, a PD member who has been at the helm
of an unprecedented left-right government since April, said
Monday that the local election results had strengthened his
"It seems that overall this result reinforces the system of
a broad coalition government," said Letta, who has repeatedly
reiterated that his government was the only way out of two
months of impasse following February's inconclusive vote.
"That's how I read it. It's a result that spurs me and us
to keep working".
The outcome should also strengthen the position of the PD
and Letta within the government alliance.
Berlusconi and the PdL had been emboldened by the PD's
recent troubles and their rise to first place in the opinion
polls and have made a series of demands about the policies that
the government should adopt.
The PD is the biggest group in parliament but it has been
ravaged by internal divisions after former party secretary Pier
Luigi Bersani squandered a big lead in the polls before
February's election with a colourless campaign.
This culminated with the PD coming first by a narrow margin
in the vote and not having a working majority in parliament,
which eventually forced it to form a seemingly unnatural
alliance with their bitter rivals in the PdL.
But the local elections have now put the PdL on the
defensive, with several centre-right lawmakers admitting they
showed the party is dependent on the campaign prowess of
Berlusconi, who took a back seat in the run-up to them.
"I think we have to acknowledge the defeat and accelerate
the process of reorganising the party that has been launched,"
said PdL Senator Domenico Scilipoti.
"It clearly emerges from these local elections that the PdL
does not have a presence at the local level and when Berlusconi
does not make a personal effort in the campaign, the centre
right just collects loud defeats".
Beppe Grillo's anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, which
captured around a quarter of the vote in the general election,
was largely absent from the run-offs after suffering a big fall
in support in the first round of voting.
It did, however, manage to get mayors elected in the towns
of Pomezia near Rome and Assemini in Sardinia.
The turnout for the run-offs, however, fell dramatically
with respect to the equivalent vote in 2008, with less than half
of eligible votes taking part.
Experts saw this as another sign the Italian public is
extremely disillusioned with its political class.

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