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Italy's centre-right wins in local vote in blow to Renzi

Italy's centre-right wins in local vote in blow to Renzi”

"The overall result isn't great".

"The centre-right is the largest coalition in the country", the 80-year-old said in a statement, adding that the results set the stage for the coalition "to get to work on the decisive challenge of returning to govern the country".

But there is a major road-block in the way of his return for a fourth time as prime minister: he is now banned from holding political office.

Around 4.3 million people were eligible to vote in 110 municipalities that were up for grabs after no candidate won more than 50% in the 11 June first-round election. On the one hand, that should be heartening to Matteo Renzi and his Democratic Party: this might signal a split in the right wing vote ahead of the next year's general elections.

However, the first-past-the-post system used in local elections and which favours coalitions may not be the voting system for the general election, where proportional representation is now used.

Nevertheless, Sunday's result could serve as a call for unity among the centre-right parties, which are in competition at national level.

Their strong first-round showing suggests that if the parties can unite under a single leader they would be a force to be reckoned with at the general election.

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"The wind is blowing for the center-right from the north to the center to the south, this is an extraordinary victory", said Renato Brunetta, the lower house leader of Forza Italia.

Center-right candidates also prevailed in another leftish bastion, La Spezia, in L'Aquila, the capital of the central Abruzzo region, and in numerous cities up for grabs in the northern Lombardy region.

Be proactive - Use the "Flag as Inappropriate" link at the upper right corner of each comment to let us know of abusive posts. "This is a major setback for the PD".

Center-right parties also benefitted from the votes of disappointed supporters of the anti-establishment 5Star Movement, which performed poorly in the first round of the local elections on June 11, and was excluded from the runoffs in most of the largest cities.

Genoa is the latest of a string of recent defeats in the PD's traditional strongholds. Mr Grillo put a fearless face on the result, pointing to victories in eight mayor races.

"The lesson we can learn from this local election is that a resurgent center-right emerged as a powerful social block, still able to attract disappointed voters, even from the populist front", said Franco Pavoncello, political science professor at Rome's John Cabot University.

In the affluent northern city of Parma, incumbent mayor Federico Pizzarotti, a former 5-Star politician who became disenchanted with Movement after Grillo declined to back him in a probe in which the mayor was eventually cleared, appeared headed to re-election on a ticket grouping various civic forces.

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