Matteo Renzi’s party pledges to stay on course after vote setback

Democratic Party controls 17 of 20 regional governments but lost key region Liguria

Centre-left candidates backed by Matteo Renzi’s Democratic Party won five out of seven regions that voted on Sunday. Photograph: Tiberio Barchielli/Palazzo Chigi/EPA

Centre-left candidates backed by Matteo Renzi’s Democratic Party won five out of seven regions that voted on Sunday. Photograph: Tiberio Barchielli/Palazzo Chigi/EPA

 

Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi’s ruling centre-left party promised on Monday to push on with its reform agenda after anti-establishment and euro-sceptic parties posted strong results in local elections.

Centre-left candidates backed by Mr Renzi’s Democratic Party (PD) won five out of seven regions that voted on Sunday. But a fall in the overall vote and the loss of the key region of Liguria dented the unchallenged supremacy Mr Renzi (40) has held over Italian politics since becoming prime minister in February 2014.

PD officials said the results, which still leave the party in control of 17 of Italy’s 20 regional governments, showed clear support for Mr Renzi’s agenda. But they could not hide their dismay at losing Liguria, in part due to a breakaway leftist candidate who split the left wing vote.

“Obviously the result in Liguria is bitter for us,” said PD deputy secretary Debora Serracchiani. She said the overall result vindicated the government’s pledges to change Italy’s labour laws, judicial system and public administration in order to reawaken Italy’s lethargic economy.

The anti-immigrant Northern League, which wants to scrap the euro, benefited from public concern over refugee arrivals in southern Italy to score a decisive win in the northeastern Veneto region. It also expanded outside of its main heartlands.

Together with a strong showing for the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, the result confirmed the appeal of anti-system parties in the euro zone’s third-largest economy after years of recession and Brussels-inspired austerity. – (Reuters)