Silvio Berlusconi has crashed to a heavy personal defeat in the latest Italian local elections, and it is partly his own fault.
In his powerbase of Milan, where he started his business and political career and which has been held by the right for 18 years, he insisted the election was a vote of confidence in him and his government.
Over 55 percent of the electorate agreed, and returned the left’s Guiliano Pisapia, ousting Berlusconi’s choice, Letizia Moratti after a campaign dominated by racial taunting of immigrants, when the right said a left victory would mean Milan becoming an “Islamic gypsyland”.
In Naples the defeat was even heavier. Over 65 percent voted for the left-backed Luigi de Magistris, but he defeated a sitting left-wing administration. He was the outsider railing against 20 years incompetance leaving the city’s problems unresolved.
Nationally the left cannot rejoice at a vote of confidence in them. Berlusconi wanted to personalise this election around him, and it is that, his campaigning style, and mudslinging attack tactics that have been rejected.
Defeat means he will have to tread more carefully on things like reforming the legal system and the constitition, which he had hoped would pave the way for a presidential bid.
His coalition partners may now begin to look for a sucessor to lead the right. It may signal the end of an era in Italian politics.
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