Renzi's PD loses Venice after two decades in power

Centre-left party also defeated in Arezzo, Matera, Nuoro runoffs

(supersedes previous) (ANSA) - Rome, June 15 - Premier Matteo Renzi's Democratic Party (PD) was licking its wounds Monday after it lost its northern stronghold of Venice in a run-off vote on Sunday after two decades in power there.
    Businessman Luigi Brugnaro, running on a center-right civic list with support from Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia (FI) party, took 53% of the vote to beat former magistrate and Senator Felice Casson, who got 46.7%.
    This was a reversal of the first-round results, which saw Casson taking 38% and Brugnaro 28.5%.
    Analysts said the run-off outcome was due to a low turnout of 48%, in which PD voters essentially deserted Casson while the anti-immigrant, anti-euro Northern League electorate flocked to Brugnaro's ticket after its own candidate ran alone and lost in the first round.
    Also weighing in was center-left voter disenchantment after the arrest in June 2014 of former Venice mayor Giorgio Orsoni in connection with a corruption scandal involving the funnelling of 25 million euros of taxpayer money into political campaigns and away from MOSE, a 5.5-billion-euro system of retractable dikes set to become operational in 2016 after decades of delays.
    Brugnaro, 54, is the son of a schoolteacher and a factory worker and in 1997 founded Umana SpA, one of Italy's first temp agencies. Preliminary results showed the center-right candidate obtaining an absolute majority on the city council, garnering 17 members for his center-right civic list. FI has three council members, the League has two, the New Center Right (NCD) has one and other civic lists have two council members.
    Casson's list seated five councillors, while the PD came away with three and the anti-establishment, anti-euro 5-Star Movement (M5S) garnered three. Elsewhere in Italy, the ruling PD lost Arezzo, Matera and Nuoro amid low turnout of just 47.11%, and prevailed in Mantua and Lecco. The current round of voting is continuing in parts of Sicily on Monday, including the city of Enna, where the ballot boxes are open until 15:00 local time. Also on Monday, PD Deputy Secretary Lorenzo Guerini admitted that defeat in local run-off votes in Venice and other cities had "burned" the centre-left group. But he also argued that, despite the losses, the PD remained Italy's most widely supported party. "The run-off featured areas of light and darkness," Guerini said. "Precise analysis (of the results) shows that the PD is clearly Italy's top party...the defeat in Venice and in other important cities such as Arezzo, Fermo, Matera and Nuoro burns".
    "The fact that we won back cities of symbolic importance like Mantua and Trani, while other good administrators held their positions, beginning in Lecco, is not enough for us to consider this result to be positive," he said.
   

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