Salvini's League dominates Italian run-off local elections

Leader of the far-right League, Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, hailed victories in Italy's local elections as "historic"

Italy's rightwing coalition led by the anti-immigration League surged to several victories in run-off local elections at the weekend, results showed Monday, wresting control of three large cities traditionally held by the left. The dominant performance in Sunday's vote comes as the League's leader, Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, and the new populist government crack down on migrants entering Italy. Rightwing candidates won control of the Tuscan cities of Pisa, Massa and Siena from centre-left representatives backed by the former ruling Democratic Party (PD). The PD's losses follow its crushing result in March's national election, where it garnered just 23 percent. The left also lost the northern town of Imola, which it had run for 73 years, to the League's national coalition partner, the anti-establishment Five Star Movement. Despite governing with Five Star since June 1, the League ran in the local elections as part of a rightwing grouping that includes former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia and minor far-right party Brothers of Italy. The rightwing coalition, which had held just three cities prior to the local elections, will now control 11, while the left fell from 17 to just five of the municipalities up for grabs. "These are historic victories in municipalities that have been administered by the left for decades. THANK YOU!!! The more the left insults us, the more the citizens reward us," Salvini wrote on Facebook. The PD's Maurizio Martina accepted the defeats, tweeting that the party "must change and rebuild". Turnout was low, with just over 46 percent voting on Sunday, after 60 percent participated in the first round on June 10.