Italian Regionals 2010
13 of Italy’s 20 regions voted in regional elections on Sunday, March 28 and most of Monday, March 28 to elect their regional President and regional Council. All the regions which voted on the 28th and 29th are “ordinary status” regions – that is regions with less autonomy than those “home rule regions” (Sardinia, Sicily, Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol, Aosta Valley and Friuli-Venezia Giulia) who in return keep only 20% of taxes levied. These regions were first established as autonomous entities with some legislative autonomy in 1970, and the Regional Council was originally elected entirely by proportional representation and the President of the Region was elected by council (like in France). Since 1995, regional Presidents have been elected in a separate ballot and a “majority bonus” has been added to the electoral system for Regional Councils.
Abruzzo voted in the last regional elections in 2005, but a “special election” was held in 2008 following the resignation of the incumbent. Molise also votes off-sync because of a similar situation in 2000/2001 or something.
The President is elected on an entirely separate ballot, and only a plurality suffices for him/her to be elected. Four-fifths of the regional councillors are elected by proportional representation in the context of provinces (the small number of seats in some provinces is another boost for stable majorities) where the threshold is 3% unless a list is “connected” to a “Presidential list” which has won 5% in which case it can get seats even if under 3%. The remaining fifth of seats are given to region-based “Presidential lists” which are linked directly to the Presidential candidate. This is a simplistic and cursory explanation of a very complex (typical Italian politics, I guess) electoral law. This also only applies to 8 of the 13 regions, since Calabria, Campania, Marche, Apuli and Tuscany have adopted slightly different systems.
The last election for the 5-term Regional Councils were held in 2005, when Berlusconi was in power but under an earlier cabinet. 2005 was the height of Berlusconi’s unpopularity, which did subside and led to his narrow defeat in 2006. Coming into 2005, the right was defending 8 (or 7 of the 13 up in 2010) regions against 6 for the left. Coming out of the 2005 elections, the left held 12 (or 11 excluding Abruzzo. Abruzzo is now held by the right following the 2008 election there) against only 2 (Lombardy and Veneto) for the right. 2005 was highwater mark for the right, and not a ‘normal’ or ‘average’ regional election. Turnout had been 71.4% in 2005.
In a campaign dominated by Berlusconi’s hyper-activity in the context of the campaign, the vote became a major test for Berlusconi ahead of the 2013 general elections and a mid-term plebiscite on his term. He has a 44% approval rating, but his coalition continues to lead voting intentions by a large margin. The right downplayed expectations, with major hopes on 2 regions: Calabria and Campania in the south, traditionally on the right. It also played hard in Piedmont and Lazio (which includes Rome). In Veneto and Piedmont, the right’s presidential candidate are both members of Umberto Bossi’s far-right regionalist Lega Nord, a close but very demanding ally of Berlusconi in Rome. Bossi obviously has his eyes, along with former AN leader Gianfranco Fini on the post-Berlusconi era.
Turnout was 64.2%, the lowest for such an election in a long time and significantly lower than in 2005. Here are the total results by coalition of the list vote for Regional Councils.
Right 47.58% winning 6 regions (+4)
Left 44.79% winning 7 regions (-4)
5 Star Movement 1.77%
The major point of this election is the victory of the right. Despite Berlusconi’s declining numbers, and a situation (poor economy, personal and political scandals against Berlusconi) going, one would think, fully in the left’s direction, the right has managed to win, a narrow win, but a win in unfavourable times, one would think, for Berlusconi’s right. The Italian left, which has problems of its own, such as lack of strong leadership (or of a leader with Berlusconi’s charisma and media appeal) and its inability to build momentum behind a fledgling and divided PD, has taken another defeat in an election it was supposed to win.
Within the right, the historic result of the Lega Nord (12.28%) is the major point of interest, and it provides a lot of the right’s support because support for Berlusconi’s PdL (26.78%) has declined since elections 2008-2009, but not to the benefit of the PD (26.1%), which stagnates at its 2009 level. Strong with 12% of the vote, and two regional Presidents, Umberto Bossi, with his eyes already on Berlusconi’s succession, will become a very demanding coalition partner. He has already demanded more fiscal autonomy for the north, and it is unlikely to be his last demand from Berlusconi. And with the votes behind him, Bossi has, to date, a very favourable outlook for the future. Bossi’s success is a dark spot on Berlusconi’s success in these elections.
On the left, there is not much movement since 2008-2009. While Antonio di Pietro’s anti-corruption Italy of Values (IdV) has seen its strength (8% in the Euros) subside a bit to fall to 7.27%, the PD stagnates at its 2009 level of 26.1%. The Left Ecology Freedom (SEL) of Apulian regional President Nichi Vendola wins 3%, ahead of the 2.74% won by the Communist Refoundation-led and dominated Federation of the Left. Francesco Rutelli’s splinter Alliance for Italy isn’t off to a very inspiring start with merely 0.58% of the vote.
The UDC doesn’t poll great, and it obviously isn’t going ahead much in its pursuit of a centrist governing alternative. But its support was likely helpful for the right and left in the regions where it didn’t run independently (in all regions where it didn’t run independently, it supported the eventual winner in all regions but Piedmont). It’s strategy of ‘geometrically variable alliances’, with left here and right here seems to be sustainable for the UDC in the future, and it could give idea to Bayrou across the border in France.
The success of the 5 Star Movement, led by the popular comedian Beppe Grillo, is also notable. It’s success comes on the back of young disaffected voters (or left-leaning young voters) who, with Grillo’s new movement, registered a vote against the PDL-PD party system and against the stock of politicians, uninspiring to them and many, on left and right alike. The high number of non-voters is also a sign of discontent with Berluconi, but discontent also with the current Italian left.
Overall, Berlusconi wins, and that’s undeniable, but the division of the left and the left’s inability to present itself as something new and stand for change plays an important role in his victory. Furthermore, his victory is clouded by the Lega’s very strong showing, something which will likely spell trouble in the future for Berlusconi.
Here are the results by region. Indicated in brackets are the number of seats won by the presidential candidate’s coalition.
Nicola Vendola (SEL-PD) 48.69% (47)
Rocco Palese (PdL) 42.25% (27)
Adriana Poli Bortone (IS-UDC) 8.71% (4)
Michele Rizzi (PdAC) 0.35%
Nichi Vendola, a gay communist, had won the first ever primary elections in Italy in 2005 ahead of the regionals, and his victory against the right’s incumbent in a conservative and very Catholic region had been a major surprise then. Vendola remains outside of the PD, and he is now the leader of a new party (he left the Communist Refoundation Party in 2008 following his defeat in a leadership v0te) called Left Ecology Freedom (SEL). He easily won the PD primaries and faced two candidates: the unknown candidate of the PdL and UDC Senator Adriana Poli Bortone, leader of a local Apulia-based outfit called Io Sud (I South). Vendola has seemingly managed to build up a strong base in Apulia, which is somewhat surprising, but in southern Italy, which is quite pro-incumbent, the candidate often matters more than party.
The left scores 46.05% on the council vote (46 seats), against 44.22% for the right (26 seats) and 9.43% for the UDC (4 seats). Vendola’s SEL wins 9.74% and 11 seats.
Vito De Filippo (PD-UDC) 60.81% (19)
Nicola Pagliuca (PdL) 27.92% (10)
Magdi Allam (Io amo Italia) 8.72% (1)
Marco Toscano (MPI) 0.7%
Florenzo Doino (PCL) 0.21%
Basilicata, although located in southern Italy, has tended to the left since the beginnings of the so-called Second Republic (likely due to its poverty, Basilicata is one of the south’s poorest regions), but it conserves certain traits common to southern Italian politics, such as pro-incumbency. De Filippo, elected by a large margin in 2005 (67% of the votes) has been re-elected by a smaller but similarly large margin. Magdi Allam, a famous ex-Muslim Italian journalist and UDC MEP (now famous for his strong views against Islam and his defense of Judeo-Christian values) won 8.7% and one seat, though the UDC was associated with the left. In fact, most politicians on the left in this region are former members of DC, which was strong in the region and throughout southern Italy.
The left has 67.56% of the votes in the council election (16 seats) against 27.24% for the right (9 seats) and 4.26% for Magdi Allam’s I Love Italy-Io Sud coalition which wins one seat. Behind De Filippo, the UDC won 7.39% of the vote and 2 seats but IdV won 9.93%.
Giuseppe Scopelliti (PdL-UDC) 57.76% (29)
Agazio Loiero (PD) 32.22% (16)
Filippo Callipo (IdV) 10.02% (3)
Calabria, a traditionally conservative region in southern Italy, switched to the left in 2005 but it has returned to the right by a large margin. The incumbent, who was seeking a second term, found an IdV candidate on his way, possibly the result of Loiero’s problems with the judiciary recently (though he was acquitted of corruption for lack of proof). However, the popularity of the right’s candidate, who is the popular mayor of Reggio Calabria probably explains a lot more about the right’s crushing victory in the region.
On the local vote, the PdL has 26.39% of the votes against 15.79% for the PD. A “non-party” list which supports Scopelliti (such lists are quite common in Italian regions) won 9.94%. In an old stronghold of Christian democracy, the UDC has 9.39% (far ahead of IdV, only 5.39% for its lists despite over 10% for its candidate – who was a famous and popular local businessman).
Stefano Caldoro (PdL-UDC) 54.25% (38)
Vincenzo De Luca (PD) 43.04% (21)
Paolo Ferrero (PRC) 1.35%
Roberto Fico (5 Star Movement) 1.34%
Incumbent Antonio Bassolino (PD), a popular former mayor of Naples is retiring after 2 consecutive terms. First elected in 2000, he won re-election in 2005 by a large margin (61.6% against 34.4% for the right) for a region which typically leans to the right. However, with Bassolino leaving office with a relatively poor second-term record and the left faced with a former Socialist (PSI, a party which was socialist in name only in later years) cabinet minister, it had little hope going into the vote. The presence of a candidate for the so-called 5 Star Movement, a party launched by popular Italian comedian Beppe Grillo and which builds up on young voters’ discontent with the PD-PDL party system.
The right has 58.6% of the votes for the regional council (38 seats) against 38.5% for the left (21 seats) and 1.56% for the PRC. The old UDEUR, which semi-died after precipitating Prodi’s fall in 2006, made a comeback in their stronghold with 3.35% region-wide and 2 seats on the right’s slate. Caldoro, who is actually a member of the Nuovo PSI allowed a Nuovo PSI list to take 5.79% of the vote and 4 seats. The far-right La Destra, associated with the right nowadays, wins one seat with barely 1% of the vote. On the left’s slate, Franceso Rutelli’s new party, Alliance for Italy won 3.04% but no seats.
Vasco Errani (PD) 52.06% (32)
Anna Maria Bernini (PdL) 36.72% (15)
Giovanni Favia (5 Star Movement) 7.0% (2)
Gian Luca Galleti (UDC) 4.2% (1)
Emilia-Romagna, a part of the Red Quadrilateral of central Italy, is a stronghold of the left. Vasco Errani, seeking a third term, had won 62.7% of the vote in 2005 faced no trouble from the right. But the campaign was rather fair play, and the candidates of both major coalitions and the UDC held a joint press-conference at one time before the election. These factors plus youth discontent with the Italian political system probably gave fuel to the Beppe Grillo movement, which, with 7% of the vote and 2 seats, wins its best result in the country.
The PD dominates the list vote with 40.64% and 18 seats, with the left standing overall at 51.92% (22 seats) against 38.31% for the right (14 seats), 6% for Grillo and 3.75% for the UDC. In a region where the Communist Party used to dominate, the PRC and its allies win only 2.79% of the vote and is left with 1 seat. However, the Lega Nord, breaks through into central Italy with a record 13.67% and 4 seats in the region, more ‘central’ than ‘northern’.
Renata Polverini (PdL-UDC) 51.14% (44)
Emma Bonino (PD-Radical) 48.32% (29)
Marzia Marzoli (Rete) 0.53%
The race in Lazio, which includes Rome, was the big race. Piero Marrazzo (PD) was elected in 2005, defeating the right’s incumbent Francesco Storace (now leader of La Destra) with 50.7% of the votes against 47.4% for Storace. Marrazzo resigned in October 2009 before a sexual scandal was going to break, leaving the region without a leader and the left without a candidate. A number of names were evoked for the PD’s candidacy, including Walter Veltroni, before former European Commissioner and leader of the Radical Party Emma Bonino got the spot. She faced right-wing trade unionist Renata Polverini (who had problems handing in her candidacy on time, fixed in time by Berlusconi’s government). Despite leading in all polls and early returns, Polverini defeated Bonino probably on basis of the votes of Rome’s suburbs (Bonino won the province of Rome itself). The right’s victory here is a major gain, given that it includes Rome.
The right has 51.38% (30 seats) against 48.29% for the left (28 seats) in the list vote. A surprising thing is that Polverini’s ‘non-party list’ dominates the list vote on the right with 26.33% and 17 seats against only 11.86% for the PdL. Storace’s La Destra, with 3.99%, wins 2 seats in a region which has traditionally been the base of Italy’s post-fascist movements (MSI and later AN). On the left, the Panella-Bonino/Radical list wins 3.3% and 2 seats, though the PD with 26.28% wins it for the left. IdV, with 8.61%, also does well.
Claudio Burlando (PD-UDC) 52.14% (25)
Sandro Biasotti (PdL) 47.85% (15)
A repeat of the 2005 race between Burlando and Biasotti in a region polarized between two different political regions: the east around Genoa, far more industrial, on the left; and the west, wealthier and less industrial on the right. Biasotti had been President between 2000 and 2005 until he was defeated 46.6-52.6 by Burlando in 2005. The same pattern repeated itself in 2005 with a similar margin and similarly divided map, but the left won. Liguria wasn’t one of the right’s major targets, so losing it won’t be considered bad for it.
The left has 52.72% (17 seats) against 47.27% (14 seats) for the right’s coalition in the list vote. Lega Nord, with 10.22% polls below national average (but higher than in the 2009 Euros), but Liguria, although northern, isn’t a strong region for the Lega Nord, which does better in mountainous areas. It remains funny to see the LN doing better in Emilia-Romagna, a ‘central’ region than in Liguria, more northern.
Roberto Formigoni (PdL) 56.1% (49)
Filippo Penati (PD) 33.27% (28)
Savino Pezzotta (UDC) 4.68% (3)
Vito Crimi (5 Star Movement) 3%
Vittorio Agnoletto (PRC) 2.36%
Gianmario Invernizzi (FN) 0.57%
Lombardy, and its 9.6 million inhabitants, is Italy’s most populous regions and includes the industrial capital of Italy, Milan. Lombardy is also a stronghold of the right, and had been one of the right’s two regions won in 2005. Formigoni, now seeking a fourth term, won 53.9% against 43.2% for the left in 2005. There were some judicial problems with Formigoni’s candidacy for a fourth term, given that the law limits Presidents to two terms for directly-elected Presidents (Formigoni was indirectly elected in 1995). He argued that the law was not in force in 2000, when he was elected, but his victory may be overturned. Yet, he dominates by a huge margin: 56% against a mere 33% for the left’s candidate, hurt by Grillo’s candidate at 3%, the PRC at 2.4% and the UDC at nearly 5%. Formigoni’s 8-seat majority bonus includes Nicole Minetti, a former showgirl and Berlusconi’s dental hygienist…
On the list vote, the right has 58.15% (41 seats) against 33.34% for the left (27 seats) and 3.84% for the UDC (3 seats). In Umberto Bossi and the Lega Lombarda’s birthplace, Bossi’s party wins a record 26.2% of the vote and 18 seats, pushing the LN ahead of the PD (22.89%), although the PD holds more seats (21) than the LN. The party also wins strong results in its base in the Pedemontana of Lombardy: 42.4% in Sondrio, 36.9% in Bergamo, and even up to 17.25% in the province of Milan.
Gian Mario Spacca (PD-UDC) 53.17% (25)
Erminio Marinelli (PdL) 39.71% (14)
Massimo Rossi (PRC) 7.11% (2)
Marche is largely within Italy’s Red Quadrilateral, and has been held by the left since the first direct elections for President in 1995. First elected in 2005, Spacca had defeated the right with 57.8% of the vote then. However, the independent candidacy of a communist, which managed to poll a respectable 7%, probably due to the fact that the communist candidate (supported by the PRC and its allies as well as Vendola’s SEL) is a former provincial president (Ascoli Piceno, where he polled 9.1% of the vote).
On the list vote, the left has 53.36% (25 seats) against 40.12% for the right (14 seats) and 6.51% for the communists (2 seats). Lega Nord, with a record 6.32% and 2 seats breaks through in a region which is quite far from the party’s bases in the north, showing that the Lega is slowly breaking through in central Italy. On the left, Rutelli’s Alliance for Italy wins 2.01% and 1 seat while IdV does well with 9.06% and 4 seats.
Roberto Cota (LN-PdL) 47.32% (36)
Mercedes Bresso (PD-UDC) 46.90% (22)
Davide Bono (5 Star Movement) 4.08% (2)
Renzo Rabellino (Lega Padana) 1.67%
Piedmont, which usually leans to the right despite the left’s strength in Turin, was narrowly gained by the leftist Mercedes Bresso from the right’s incumbent Enzo Ghigo in 2005 with 50.9% against 47.1% for the right. Piedmont was a key region for the right, but one where the right’s top candidate was from the Lega Nord: in this case, Roberto Cota, the leader of the Lega’s local branch. Despite polls favouring the left and early results also favourable to the left, Bresso ended up losing by a very narrow margin to Cota, though the swing to the right in Piedmont was not as large as in some other places, probably a result of some voters (notably UDC voters, the UDC supported Bresso despite her atheism) on the centre-right being reticent about voting for a Leghista candidate. Another factor which contributed to Bresso’s defeat was the strong showing of the 5 Star Movement, whose 4% probably hindered Bresso as most voters, one would assume, are left-leaning.
In the list vote, the left is ahead with 47.54% (21 seats), but the right with 46.98% has more seats (24). The 5 Star Movement, with 3.66%, wins two seats while the bunch of fascists, eurosceptics and others behind Rabellino win 1.8% and obviously no seats. On the right, the Lega Nord wins 16.74% and 9 seats, a good result for a region where the Lega is weaker (compared to Lombardy and Veneto). On the left, the UDC, with 3.92% wins only 2 seats, a rather bad result for them.
Enrico Rossi (PD) 59.73% (32)
Monica Faenzi (PdL) 34.44% (19)
Francesco Bosi (UDC) 4.59% (2)
Alfonso de Virgiliis (Radical) 1.15%
Ilario Palmisani (FN) 0.69%
Tuscany is at the core of Italy’s Red Quadrilateral, and has been a stronghold of the PCI first and the post-1992 left. It is also the region where the various communist parties formed after the PCI’s collapse have found their strongest support, a base which allowed them to run independently of the left in 2005 and win 7% of the vote. The incumbent, Claudio Martini, re-elected in 2005 with 57.37% of the vote against 32.8% for the right, was retiring in favour of Enrico Rossi. With 59.7%, he wins the left’s second best result after its crushing victory in Basilicata.
The left does even better on the list vote with 60.7% and 19 seats, while the right has 33.6% and 13 seats and the UDC has 4.8% and 1 seat. Tuscany uses an absurdly complex electoral system, which seems to shut out all other parties on the left than the PD (42.2%), including IdV (9.4%) and the communists (5.27%). However, IdV gets 5 other seats somewhere while 3 go to the communist list (PRC). On the right, Lega Nord wins a record 6.48% and gets 2 seats.
Catiuscia Marini (PD) 57.24% (19)
Fiammetta Modena (PdL) 37.70% (10)
Paola Binetti (UDC) 5.05% (1)
The small inland region of Umbria, sandwiched between the Lazio and Marche, is sometimes called the “Mezzogiorno of central Italy” and falls entirely within the Red Quadrilateral. The left’s incumbent, Maria Rita Lorenzetti, who won 63% in 2005, is retiring after 2 terms. The PD’s candidate, the young Catiuscia Marini had no trouble succeeding her in a very left-wing region. With 57%, she trounces the right which polls 37.7% (still higher than its 33.7% in 2005).
On the list vote, the left polls 58.91% (13 seats) against 36.7% for the right and 4.38% for the UDC. The PRC achieves an honourable result of 6.86% and 2 seats, while a socialist list on the left’s slate wins 4.16% and 1 seat. On the right, again a breakthrough for Lega Nord, which wins 4.33% and 1 seat in its weakest region (where it’s organized, at least).
Luca Zaia (LN-PdL) 60.15% (37)
Giuseppe Bortolussi (PD) 29.07% (19)
Antonio De Poli (UDC) 6.38% (4)
David Borrelli (5 Star Movement) 3.15%
Silvato Polo (Veneti Independensa) 0.5%
Paolo Caratossidis (FN) 0.36%
Gianluca Panto (Partito nasional veneto) 0.35%
A conservative, generally rural and Catholic region, Veneto was one of the right’s two victories in 2005, thanks in part to the popularity of its incumbent, Giancarlo Galan who won 50.6% of the vote against 42.4% for the left. However, after 3 terms in office, Giancarlo Galan was forced to step aside by the right in favour of a candidate from Lega Nord (very strong in the region), Luca Zaia who is also Berlusconi’s incumbent Agriculture Minister. Zaia, who is also very popular, including with traditionally left-wing voters, was seen by all on the right as the best candidate and Galan was forced to step aside. Galan’s forced retirement led to an independent UDC candidacy around former MEP and incumbent deputy Antonio De Poli, who polled a respectable but disappointing 6% (some polls had given him over 10%). Zaia is the only candidate of the right to win over 60% of the vote.
The right has 60.7% on the list vote (31 seats) against 29.32% (18 seats) for the left, 6.46% (4 seats) for the UDC and 2.57% for the 5 Star Movement. The Lega Nord in Veneto wins its best result ever with 35.15% and 18 seats, far ahead of the PdL which has only 24.74% and 13 seats. The party even wins a staggering 48.5% in the province of Treviso, an old stronghold of the local LN and also Zaia’s home province.
Provincial and communal elections:
Four provincial elections (L’Aquila, Caserta, Viterbo, and Imperia) were also held as well as a number of communal elections in cities including Venice. In the four provinces up, all were ruled by the left except Imperia. Now, all are ruled by the right. In L’Aquila, which suffered a large earthquake over a year ago, the right has won a lot of support in the province thanks to its rebuilding efforts, and L’Aquila logically switched to the right, with the right winning 53.4%. In Caserta, the right won 64.4%, picking up the province from a retiring PD incumbent. In Viterbo, the right won 54.7%, also picking up an open seat. In Imperia finally, the right, with 59%, holds an open seat. Full results on La Repubblica.
A vast number of municipalities held elections, in fact all regions except the special status had some municipalities up for re-election. La Repubblica states that of the major cities up, the left was defending 44 and the right 28 (2 were held by the centre and 1 was held by an independent ‘civic’ list). After the first round, the left has 15 against 18 for the right and 40 will go into a runoff.
The race in Venice was the most watched of all, with incumbent PD mayor Massimo Cacciari retiring. The right’s candidate was none else than Berlusconi’s popular and bubbly Public Administration Minister, Renato Brunetta. He faced the left’s Giorgio Orsoni. In a somewhat surprising result, Orsoni defeated Brunetta with 51.1% against 42.6% for Brunetta, a result which will be a bright spot on a bad day for the left.
Other than that, the left picked up Lecco while the right picked up Chieti and Andria. A majority of municipalities will hold a runoff on April 11 and 12. Trentino-Alto-Adige holds local elections on May 16 with runoffs on May 30. Full results on La Repubblica.