By Associated Press - Tuesday, September 22, 2020

ROME (AP) - Italy’s center-right parties made inroads in bastions of the left, but final results from regional elections Tuesday showed the left-of-center Democratic Party held on, giving stability for now to its partnership with the 5-Star Movement in the ruling national coalition.

The right-wing Brothers of Italy party did take the governorship of Le Marche, a longtime center-left stronghold on Italy’s Adriatic coast, giving the party known for its conservative, anti-migration stance a key regional win. The party’s candidate, Francesco Acquaroli, ran with the backing of other center-right parties.

The biggest center-right party, the League, also made a strong showing in traditionally left-leaning Tuscany with 40% of the vote. But Democratic candidate Eugenio Giani held off what would have been a devastating defeat by winning 48.6%, final results showed. The center-left also kept southern Puglia from flipping to the right.

The head of the Democratic Party, Nicola Zingaretti, was emboldened by the party’s showing, which confirmed for now his continued leadership of the left. “What won was a team, a community,” he said. “Now we go forward to change, close to the people.”

The League confirmed its expected victory in Veneto, where the governor, Luca Zaia, secured another mandate with a whopping 76% of the vote. Zaia was largely credited with having helped spare Veneto the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, through aggressive testing and other public health measures, while neighboring Lombardy suffered more than any Italian region.

In all, Italians voted over two days for governors in seven regions and for mayors of 1,000 cities and towns in elections postponed by the pandemic. Italians also overwhelmingly backed a constitutional referendum to reduce the number of parliamentarians by a third, with nearly 70% of voters supporting the measure.

Giovanni Orsina, professor of political science and the head of the school of government at Rome’s Luiss University, said the results didn’t create a political earthquake. But he said they confirmed that the right was strong and getting stronger in Italy, that traditionally left-wing regions were becoming less so, but that the Democratic Party, or PD, had held out.

“The national message is the PD didn’t lose Puglia,” Orsina said. “Of course, this means that the PD is going to be a more solid party, and this means also that the government is going to be more solid.”

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