Italians vote in two regions; Salvini eyes return to power

ROME (AP) — Italian Right-wing opposition leader Matteo Salvini is telling Italians who are voting in two regions to use their ballots to help his anti-migrant party return to national power.

Voting began yesterday morning in Emilia-Romagna, a northern region where the left-wing has held power for decades, and in Calabria, in the south, an area Salvini’s League party once disparaged as unproductive but where it now wants to expand a foothold.

Results, expected today, of the voting for governor and regional legislatures could rock Italy’s squabbling central government in Rome.

Salvini is demanding an early election to end Premier Giuseppe Conte’s coalition government, whose junior partner is the centre-left Democrats. Left-wing forces have ruled Emilia-Romagna for decades and a loss there could weaken the Democratic Party’s leverage in Conte’s government.

The senior party in Conte’s government is the populist 5-Star Movement, which has been plagued by infighting and defections.

Salvini in a Facebook post told Italians as they headed to vote to “liberate these splendid regions” from the Democrats and then “let’s free the entire country”.

Salvini, who in Conte’s previous government took a hard line against immigration, lost his job and his right-wing party lost its place in government last year when the League leader yanked his support in a failed bid for an early election. Conte then formed a government with the Democrats.

Silvio Berlusconi, Matteo Salvini , Giorgia Meloni, Lucia Borgonzoni and Vittorio Sgarbi hold their final electoral rally in Ravenna, Italy. PHOTO: AP