Renzi Stumbles in Local Elections

Renzi Stumbles in Local ElectionsRenzi Stumbles in Local Elections

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi suffered a setback in local elections on Sunday, with a weaker-than-expected showing by his center-left bloc and a marked rise in support for the right-wing Northern League and the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement.

With 22 million Italians eligible to vote in the biggest test for Renzi since last year’s European elections, projections showed center-left candidates well ahead in the central regions of Tuscany and Marche and the southern region of Puglia. The center-left also led more narrowly in the Campania region around Naples and in Umbria, one of its traditional strongholds, Reuters reported.

However, in a blow for the 40-year-old premier, the northwestern region of Liguria looked set to fall to center-right after a leftist anti-Renzi candidate split the center-left vote.

In Veneto, the euroskeptic Northern League was on course for a crushing win to hold on to power in one of its northeastern heartlands and its bluntly spoken leader Matteo Salvini also sharply increased its support outside its home base.

Renzi’s government needed a convincing result to maintain momentum for labor, education and constitutional reforms which have met fierce resistance from trade unions, the political opposition and the left-wing of the Democratic party.