Voters in Italy have dealt a resounding blow to prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s right wing government in local and mayoral elections.
Berlusconi and his People of Liberty party—which ran an anti-immigrant, pro-business campaign—was rejected in his two strongholds of Milan and Naples and tens of towns and cities across the country.
Many votes went to the second round after earlier polls failed to return 50 percent for any candidate in Milan, Naples and elsewhere.
Milan is Berlusconi’s home town. From there he launched his media empire and built a coalition with the right wing Northern League, which his government relies on to pass laws in parliament.
This is the first time in 20 years that the centre-right has lost the city—in an election Berlusconi declared as a referendum on his premiership.
In Naples, Luigi De Magistris, an anti-corruption campaigning magistrate, beat the ruling People of Liberty mayoral candidate with 65 percent of the vote.
In Milan’s mayoral elections, the opposition’s Giuliano Pisapia won with 55 percent of the vote. Tens of thousands of people flooded the streets of the city on Monday night chanting “Milan is free”.
The votes were a signal of the mass rejection of the politics of division, corruption and sleaze.
The challenge for the opposition, and the wider left, will be to build real resistance on the anger and disaffection.