Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi is not having a good day. His candidate for mayor of Rome is getting trounced in election returns.
Projections show 5-Star candidate Virginia Raggi has about 37% or the vote.
Renzi’s center-left Democratic Party and far-right candidate Giorgia Meloni were vying for second place with around 22 percent each.
The anti-establishment 5-Star Movement looked set to take charge of Rome following municipal elections on Sunday that saw it make gains in other Italian cities and pile pressure on Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.
Projections based on partial counts put the 5-Star candidate in Rome, Virginia Raggi, ahead with around 37 percent of the vote, while Roberto Giachetti, from Renzi’s center-left Democratic Party (PD), and far-right candidate Giorgia Meloni were vying for second place with around 22 percent each.
If no-one wins more than 50 percent, run-offs between the top two candidates will be held on June 19, with second-round ballots expected in the major cities up for grabs.
Unlike other non-traditional parties that have flourished across Europe since the 2008 financial crisis, the 5-Star Movement straddles ideological divides, focusing its anger on rampant graft in Italy more than austerity or immigration.
Victory in Rome, which has been battered by corruption scandals, would represent a major step forward for the party, which was founded in 2009 by comedian Beppe Grillo. Success in governing the Eternal City could prove a spring board to winning power in general elections that are due in 2018.
“The wind is changing, this is the moment,” Raggi told her supporters in the early hours of Monday.
“We are facing a historic moment,” said the 37-year-old lawyer. “The Romans are ready to turn a page and I am ready to govern this city and to restore Rome to the splendor and beauty that it deserves.”
Projections suggested that in Turin, historical home of carmaker Fiat, the incumbent center-left mayor Piero Fassino led the field but was likely to face an unexpectedly tough run-off against a 5-Star candidate.
Naples looked set to be held by leftist incumbent Luigi de Magistris, an independent former prosecutor who has declared the city a “Renzi-free zone”.
Renzi played little part in the municipal election campaign until the final week, saying the vote reflected local concerns not national interests, and promising that it would have no impact on his government.
Instead, he has staked his political future on a referendum in October on a contested constitutional reform, which is aimed at bringing stability to politics and end Italy’s tradition of revolving-door governments.
Renzi has said he will quit politics if he loses that.
Expected and Unexpected Challenges
Five star candidate Virginia Raggi was expected to win the first round in Rome. But Turin was supposed to be an easy Renzi victory.
As in the presidential vote in Austria, mainstream politicians and parties are getting hammered.
People are fed up.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock