Molise (Italy) 2011
Regional elections were held in Molise, a region of Italy, on October 16 and 17, 2011. The directly-elected president of the region alongside the 26-seat regional council were up for reelection. The last elections took place in 2006 and were won by Angelo Michele Iorio of the right-wing coalition with 54% of the vote.
Molise is Italy’s newest regions – created out of Abruzzo in the 60s – and is the second least populated region in Italy. It is a small, rural and poor province in southern Italy. During the First Republic, Molise was a very conservative province and often gave the right-wing DC its best results in the country. The party on its own won over 50% of the votes and an absolute majority in all regional elections between 1970 and 1995. Under the Second Republic, however, Molise’s political profile has changed somewhat to become something of a swing region. In 1995, the left won the regional elections by a tiny margin over the right but in the games of alliances, the left-wing president was toppled in 1998 by Iorio, who aligned with the right before himself being removed in 1999 in favour of the left. The left won the 2000 elections by 0.4%, but these elections were cancelled when a court ruled that there had been irregularities concerning the Green list in the elections. Iorio won the re-vote in 2001 by 58% against 42% for the left’s Giovanni di Stasi. In 2006, he was reelected with 54%. But at the same time, Molise voted for the left coalition (although by very small margins) in both 2006 and 2008. A lot of this is due to the strong local implantation of Italy of Values (IdV), the anti-corruption party led by Molise favourite son and ex-magistrate Antonio di Pietro. IdV won 28% in the 2008 general elections, coming out far ahead of the mainstream PD which won only 18%.
This election wasn’t really on the radar and thus not played out as important a political test for embattled Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi as the local elections earlier this year – marked by a big left-wing victory – but they were still interesting. Turnout was 59.79%, down from 65.1% in 2006.
Direct vote for president
Angelo Michele Iorio (Right-PdL) 46.94% winning 3 seats
Paolo Di Laura Frattura (Left-PD) 46.15% winning 1 seat
Antonio Federico (M5S) 5.6%
Giovancarmine Mancini (La Destra) 1.29%
Overall regional council vote
Right 56.37% winning 15 seats
Left 40.49% winning 11 seats
La Destra 0.86%
The race for president, which in these regional elections is the most important contest, was surprisingly close and decided by 1505 and less than one percent. This is quite surprising considering Iorio’s apparent local popularity and the right’s much more pronounced success in elections to the regional council. This is a good result for the left, but a potential victory ‘spoiled’ by the strong showing of the Five Star Movement (M5S), a left-populist movement led by popular anti-corrpution blogger and and comedian Beppe Grillo. Grillo’s M5S had already ‘spoiled’ the 2010 regional election in Piedmont by taking away votes which would otherwise have pretty logically gone to the left. A pretty disappointing ‘close but no cigar’ election for the left.
The regional council vote was marked by some pretty amazing fragmentation, and also a pretty stark difference to the presidential race. On the right, the PdL emerged as the largest party with only 18.9% (5 seats), with strong showings from the local ‘Progetto Molise’ (9.5%), the UDC (6.8%), the Alliance of the Centre (6.7%) and the regionalist Great South (6.5%). On the left, it was even more fragmented. Overall, the left won 40.5%, quite a bit below Frattura’s showing in the presidential contest. The PD won only 9.9%. IdV did very poorly considering that Molise is the party’s home turf. It won 8.8%. Perhaps the party’s perceived shift to the left with the likes of newly-elected Naples mayor Luigi de Magistris (who favours a closer alliance with Nichi Vendola’s SEL) has been poorly received by voters in di Pietro’s native region. An IdV Senator from Molise recently criticized the IdV’s left-wing shift. Francesco Rutelli’s Alliance for Italy did well with 6.3%, as did the small Socialist Party which won 4.6%. Vendola’s SEL won 3.9%, the communist Federation of the Left took 2.8%.