The day after the regional elections carried out in seven regions, it is time to analyze the results. In five regions a center-left wing coalition won and in two a center-right wing coalition won, the same number of regions both factions controlled the day before the elections with just one change: Liguria passed from the center-left to the center-right and Campania from the center-right to the center-left. Apparently, nobody lost and nobody won, but in Italy, everybody wins. For the Democratic Party five regions against two is a clear victory; for Forza Italia and its president Silvio Berlusconi, the win in Liguria, a region historically guided by the center-left, is a victory; for Matteo Salvini, secretary of the Northern League, it is a victory because in several regions the Northern League is the second most voted party, reaffirming a Northern League presidency in Veneto with Luca Zaia that took twice as many votes as Alessandra Moretti, Democratic Party opponent. For the 5 Star Movement it is a victory because the party confirmed their presence in all regions, contradicting the pessimistic judgement of several political analysts that declared the movement ‘dead’ before the elections.
But reality is more real than propaganda. The Democratic Party has to admit that it lost votes; twelve months ago at the European elections the Democratic Party was able to obtain 40,8% of the vote, at this round Liguria and Veneto were the most important contests and it lost in both regions obtaining just 22% and 27% of votes.
The Northern League is the real winner of this election confirming its positive trajectory. Matteo Salvini, the young leader of the Northern League is the leader of the most voted center-right party in Italy, although he is not able, at the moment, to re-create a winning coalition of the center-right, as Silvio Berlusconi has in the past. And for this reason, looking at the 2018 national elections, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s opponent is not Matteo Salvini, but rather Luigi Di Maio, the rising leader of the 5 Star Movement.
According to Roberto D’Alimonte, professor at NYU Florence and one of the most respected political analysts in Italy, in an article published on Huffington Post Italia, the electoral law passed by the parliament a few weeks ago ‘sees’ in the 5 Star Movement, rather than the Northern League, a credible opponent to the Democratic Party of Matteo Renzi. In fact, the new electoral law establishes a majority bonus for the most voted party in order to ensure more stability for the government. Salvini will be able to challenge Renzi only if he takes the lead of the entire center-right, creating a solid coalition. According to D’Alimonte it will be hard for him to achieve itfor two reasons: Salvini has extremist positions on several issues and he guides a party that is only really popular in Northern Italy. In Apulia, for instance, he only won 2% of the votes. On the other hand, the 5 Star Movement “has more chances” because it “has a homogenous distribution of votes in Italy”, D’Alimonte said. However, a system, like that introduced by the new electoral law, which establishes a second ballot between the two most voted parties in case nobody reaches the threshold of 40%, pushes the parties to choose a candidate that is appreciated by other political forces in addition to their own. For D’Alimonte, “Salvini doesn’t have a transversal appeal” and, for this reason, he sees in Luigi Di Maio and in the 5 Star Movement the real opponent to Renzi at the next national elections.