Italian right hopes to conquer left stronghold in key vote

ROME (AFP) – Italians began voting in Umbria yesterday for a regional election heralded as a key test for both the young left-leaning government and a zealous new right-wing opposition alliance.

Firebrand Matteo Salvini is determined to wrest the hilly region prized for its truffles and prosciutto from the left, which has governed it for 70 years, by capitalising on a health scandal and biting economic crisis.

“Never before has Umbria, with its 884,000 inhabitants, been such an important thermometre for national politics,” the Sole 24 Ore daily said in the run-up to the vote.

Polling stations opened at 7am and closed at 11pm (2200 GMT), with the results not expected before today.

Salvini collapsed Italy’s previous populist government two months ago when he was deputy prime minister in a failed bid to spark a Parliamentary election he hoped to win.