Salvini triumphs in Italian left-wing stronghold in blow to ruling coalition
Italy's centre-right won a landslide victory in Umbria's elections giving Matteo Salvini's anti-immigration League party a foothold in a region ruled by the left for 50 years while dealing a blow to the ruling coalition.
"We are writing the pages of history," said Mr Salvini, the former deputy prime minister.
In the race for the regional governorship, Donatella Tesei, a League senator, handily beat Vincenzo Bianconi, despite Mr Bianconi's joint backing from the coalition partners, the Five Star Movement and centre-left Democratic Party (PD). The League got 37pc of the vote, while the smaller far-right Brothers of Italy won 10pc and Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right Forza Italia took 5.8pc.
The vote was the first key electoral test for Italy's new governing alliance which was formed after Mr Salvini walked away from the government he had formed with Five Star, in the expectation that would trigger elections. Instead, Five Star made a pact with the centre-left PD, its former rival, shutting Mr Salvini out of power. Luigi Di Maio's Five Star Movement suffered the biggest humiliation, with just over 7pc support, down from 27.5pc last year.
"This is a significant blow to Five Star and to the PD," said Erik Jones, director of European and Eurasian studies at Johns Hopkins University in Bologna. "The timing is not good, coming on the heels of a fractious budget negotiation and when the leadership of both groups is under challenge."