Matteo Renzi’s party fares badly in Italian mayoral poll

PD candidates may lose second-round vote in Rome, Milan and Naples

Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi: his Democratic Party performed badly in most of the major cities. Photograph: Angelo Carconi/EPA

Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi on Monday tried to put a brave face on his party's disappointing local election results on Sunday.

As was widely expected, Mr Renzi's Democratic Party performed poorly in the first round of voting in mayoral elections involving 13 million voters and some of Italy's most important cities, including Rome, Milan, Turin and Naples.

However, the final word on these elections will be the run-off vote in a fortnight’s time. But an analysis of yesterday’s first round would suggest the PD party candidate will lose the second-round vote in Rome, Milan and Naples, while the party will also be hard-pressed in Turin.

Undoubtedly, the most significant (and predictable) result came in Rome where the candidate for the Five Star (M5S) Protest movement, Virginia Raggi, returned a 35 per cent vote, well clear of her closest rival, Roberto Giacchetti of the PD party on 24.9 per cent. In Milan, the PD candidate, Giuseppe Sala, did win but he did so by little over one percentage point, returning 41.9 per cent as opposed to 40.7 per cent returned by his centre-right opponent Stefano Parisi. Such a slim lead may not be enough to guarantee Mr Sala, the man who organised last year's Expo in Milan, victory in the run-off vote.

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In Naples, the PD party recorded its worst result of the major city elections, with candidate Valeria Valente not making it through to the final run-off vote against yesterday's winner, the incumbent mayor, former investigative magistrate Luigi De Magistris, who returned an imposing 42 per cent vote. In two weeks, Mr De Magistris, who is supported by 12 different civic groups but not by the PD party, looks certain to win against centre-right candidate Gianni Lettieri who polled 24 per cent yesterday.

Finally, in Turin, a city where the PD candidate has romped home in the first round with a 50 per cent-plus vote in the last two elections, there was further PD disappointment.

Sitting mayor Piero Fassino of the PD, returned a poll-topping 41.8 per cent but will have to go to a second round to see off the persistent challenge of Chiara Appendino of the M5S protest movement, on 30.9 per cent.

Admitting he was less than satisfied with the results, Mr Renzi argued his party had still won approximately 1,000 of the 1,300 municipal elections all over Italy.

Furthermore, he argued these local election results have little or no relevance to the overall popularity of his government.