Millions go to polls in Italian local elections with key battles in major cities

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By Euronews  with AP
Millions go to polls in Italian local elections with key battles in major cities
Copyright  Mauro Scrobogna/LaPresse

Italy is staging local elections that are being seen as a gauge of the people's views when it comes to the national picture.

After the polls close on Monday afternoon observers say a clearer picture should emerge of which way the country is swinging.

Almost 1,200 municipalities are involved and there is also the regional election in Calabria. Among the most significant battles are the mayoral elections in Rome, Milan, Naples, Trieste, Turin and Bologna.

In the capital and the northern city of Turin, the focus will be on the populist 5-Star Movement - with Rome's mayor Virginia Raggi and Turin's Chiara Appendino once again standing for the party after success five years ago.

But Raggi will face stiff competition from at least four other candidates including Roberto Gualtieri for the Democratic Party.

Although voting closes on Monday results could take some time. Runoffs, if needed, will be held on October 17 and 18.

Around 12 million people, or roughly 20% of Italy’s population, are eligible to vote in the mayoral races.

The 5-Star Movement, currently Parliament's largest party, has suffered internal bickering. Its newly elected leader, former Premier Giuseppe Conte, who has been trying to heal the divisions, heavily backed Raggi and rebuffed overtures by the Democrat Party to throw its backing behind the Democrat running to be Rome's mayor.

The Democrats will likely need an alliance with the Movement to counter the rising popularity of right-wing forces when national elections are held.

After national elections, alliances will be crucial in forming a government, since in Italy’s fractured political spectrum, no one party can count on any significant likelihood of governing alone.

Thus, how the mayoral campaign alliances fare in this month’s municipal races will be dissected as a possible indication of Italians’ sentiment when they next vote for national leadership.