1/ Election to be held in the Italian central region of Umbria on Sunday. What to look for.

Short thread for those interested in wider implications.
2/ The “red belt” of central Italy does not exist anymore. At the 2018 national election, both League & M5S enjoyed healthy growth in Umbria & other "red" regions. Still, Umbria has ALWAYS been led by left wingers so far - symbolically this matters...
3/... also because left is supposed to do well in regional elections -they are supposed to be rooted & have good connections with various sectors/associations & civil society.
4/ Since 2013 & sudden growth of M5S, three blocks/poles compete nationally: centre-left (led by PD), right (led by League) and M5S. In Umbria, however, centre-left & M5S have created a “pole”: they support one of the two candidates that has a chance of winning: Vincenzo Bianconi
5/ If the right – led by League- can defeat M5S/PD (their candidate is League senator Donatella Tesei), this would very much strengthen their claim that this govt is politically illegitimate & that fresh elections must follow soon.
6/ A victory for the right is now a very plausible scenario. League gained 38,2% on its own in European elections here, & Salvini has invested a month campaigning up & down the region. He & his team are good dedicated campaigners.
7/ If the centre-left/M5S were driven by rational considerations they would resist the idea of immediate elections. But they are not a ‘pole’, of course, hence they will be thinking in terms of what they can gain from each other, too.
8/ Additionally,they're internally divided. PD has just “lost” Renzi & followers, who created yet another centrist entity whose only function is to erode PD’s support & be a vehicle for Renzi’s own ambition. With polls giving him 3,4% Renzi may not want elections right now either
9/ There are those within M5S who will see election as opportunity to get rid of what is now “old guard” & renew party – e.g. by giving high profile leader & Foreign Minister Di Maio a push. Even if party is forced into opposition- which is not a bad place to be for M5S anyway.
10/ If defeat in Umbria sets in motion a series of bad results across Italy, this will divide the governing alliance even further & make Conte’s job impossible (rather than force PD & M5S to create a common front).
11/ Just like much of UK’s opposition, M5S & PD are strategically hopeless & remain obsessed with their own survival, whatever the consequences (in the UK these are somewhat more serious right now, but still the parallels are obvious).
12/ 700,000 people are eligible to vote in Umbria, so vote will not give us a true pic of the situation nationwide. BUT, importantly, it will help the sparring sides to build a narrative – which will influence forthcoming regional elections elsewhere, hence also national politics
13/ More specifically, if the right wins here AND in Emilia-Romagna (election in January, also stronghold of the left until recently), then the momentum may well become unstoppable to hold fresh elections. Salvini knows this & is staking it all in Umbria.
14/ However he packages it, Salvini's aborted attempt to bring down Conte has damaged his credibility among right wing voters & dented his reputation as the successful “Captain”. He now needs to do what @berlusconi successfully engineered vs. Prodi as PM after his defeat of 2006.
@berlusconi 15/ That is putting constant pressure on the weak alliance governing Italy at the moment (in reality, just as legitimate & defensible politically than the previous one) & get a vote asap. The more M5S & PD manage to do, the worst it is for him.
@berlusconi 16/ If the last couple of weeks (characterised by infighting within the govt alliance) are anything to go by, Salvini’s job may not be too hard.
@berlusconi 17/ Clever also of Berlusconi & Meloni (Brothers of Italy) to recognise Salvini’s leadership (for now) & present a united front. If Berlusconi stays on as kingmaker & Meloni ends up as Defence or Interior Minister in next govt...
@berlusconi 18/ They would both have played their cards very well.

Unlike many on the left, they do know where their interests lie. /END/
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