Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi was flattened in local elections last Monday which he had previously called a referendum on his leadership.
In Milan, a stronghold of Berlusconi’s People of Liberty party, he put huge resources into the re-election campaign of mayor Letizia Moratti.
She won under 42 percent of the vote—the first time in 20 years that the right has failed to win 50 percent or more.
The centre-left Democratic party won 48 percent of the vote. It will now go to a run-off.
A recount was taking place in Naples as Socialist Worker went to press.
The southern city also saw the biggest strike rally in Italy last week during a one-day general strike organised by the CGIL union.
In the north, voters rejected a poisonous anti-immigrant campaign run by Berlusconi and his far-right Northern League allies.
The votes against Berlusconi also show that people are furious at the government’s vicious austerity drive, corruption and sleaze.
The left faces huge challenges in Italy. The parties have many problems and the CGIL union is isolated in the fightback.
But the successful general strike last week, and the trouncing of Berlusconi shows the mood for change.