'Goodbye to the left, now Europe will change': Salvini group wins fifth region
A centre-Right alliance led by Matteo Salvini has seized control of the Italian region of Basilicata after 25 years of centre-left rule, with the hardliner now setting his sights on elections for the European Parliament.
Basilicata is the fifth successive region that the centre-right has taken from the left in recent months. A bloc that included Mr Salvini's League and Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia party took 42pc of the vote.
The League tripled the number of votes it won in the region - which forms the instep of Italy's boot - compared with last year's general election.
The centre-left won 33pc of votes while the Five Star Movement, which governs at national level in coalition with the League, took 20pc - less than half the votes it won in the region during the general election a year ago.
Mr Salvini's provocative rhetoric on law and order and his closure of Italy's ports to migrant rescue ships have been criticised by humanitarian organisations and opposition MPs.
His citation of quotes by Benito Mussolini and Ezra Pound, a notorious US fascist, has raised fears of a dangerous drift towards the far-right.
"The League has tripled its vote in a year. Goodbye to the left, now Europe is going to change," he said in reference to the European elections in May.
Mr Salvini has pledged to bring about a "new European spring" by working with nationalist and populist parties.
They will face a showdown with the liberal establishment at the European elections, with Eurosceptic figures like Mr Salvini and Hungary's Viktor Orban cast against the likes of Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel.