ROME – Italy’s anti-establishment 5-Star Movement looked set to easily win the election for mayor in Rome and was also on course to take Turin, exit polls said on Sunday, dealing a severe blow to Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, Reuters reports.
The polls suggested Renzi’s center-left Democratic Party (PD) might retain the financial capital Milan, providing some consolation for the prime minister as he prepares for a crucial referendum on constitutional reform in October that he has staked his political career on.
In the run-off ballot in Rome, the 5-Star candidate, Virginia Raggi was likely to win a commanding 62-66 percent of the vote, according to the EMG pollster, against 34-38 percent for the center-left’s Roberto Giachetti.
The race looked far closer in Milan, where EMG had center-left candidate Giuseppe Sala ahead with 49.5-53.5 percent, followed by the center-right’s Stefano Parisi with 46.5-50.5 percent.
Some 8.6 million people, or around a fifth of the total electorate, were eligible to vote for mayors of 126 towns and cities where no candidate won more than 50 percent of the vote in a first round of voting on June 5.
However, political attention is focused on a handful of key election battlegrounds, including the Italian capital.
In perhaps the biggest potential blow to Renzi, the PD risks a shock defeat in one of its traditional heartlands, Turin, the home of carmaker Fiat, where its incumbent Piero Fassino was trailing the 5-Star’s candidate Chiara Appendino.
Appendino was set to win 49.5-53.5 percent of the vote, compared with 46.5-50.5 percent for Fassino, pollsters said.
Naples, Italy’s third largest city, was already a lost cause for the PD, whose candidate was knocked out in the June 5 first round vote.
In the run-off in the southern port city, the incumbent former prosecutor Luigi de Magistris, who has no party affiliation, looked set to win easily against his center-right opponent, exit polls said.