On Sunday, the residents of Italy's autonomous southern region of Sardinia elected the region's president along with the members of the regional council. The voter turnout was 53.75 percent.
According to preliminary results, centre-right candidate Christian Solinas from the Sardinian Action Party, backed by Salvini, won the election, getting over 47 percent of the vote. Center-left Massimo Zedda, who got only around 33 percent, has already conceded. M5S candidate Francesco Desogus came third with around 11 percent of the vote.
Roberto D'Alimonte, an expert on electoral systems and Italian political affairs from the LUISS university in Rome, recalled in his comments to Sputnik that regional elections had always been M5S's so-called weak spot, saying that the movement's results in Sardinia were not surprising.
"M5S has always done very poorly in local elections, in regional elections. So it is not a complete surprise that they are doing so poorly [in Sardinia]. They do not have roots. But certainly, the result is particularly bad. If this is the final result, clearly, it is not a good result," D’Alimonte stated.
Meanwhile, the M5S candidate received only 20 percent of the vote. Back in March 2018, M5S received some 40 percent in both Abruzzo and Sardinia.
According to Lorenzo Codogno, a visiting professor at the London School of Economics, the Sardinia vote's results indicate the M5S's "sizable collapse."
"The tendency recorded in many areas of the country — Abruzzo, recently, and others — and in opinion polls show the center-right coalition continuing to score well, led by the Lega… while the M5S is being in free fall," Codogno told Sputnik.
Good Sign For Rightists Ahead of May Vote
According to D’Alimonte, the rightists were also following an earlier trend, but an opposite one, consistently attracting new supporters.
"We have seen it in the general election in March last year and also in regional elections. This is the confirmation of the trend [of the right-wing rise]… I think the Lega will do well in the European elections," he added.
If this happens, Lega is set to become second-biggest party in the European Parliament, having just two seats fewer than the German centre-right alliance of the Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU) and Christian Social Union in Bavaria (CSU).
The reason for the continuing rise of the right-wingers lies in the issues they focus on in the public debate, D’Alimonte believes.
"It’s not so much [about] the Euroskepticism. I think the Lega has captured some issues that are of great concern to the Italians, such as migration and security. These are the issues that are paying off for the Lega much more than Euroskepticism. Immigration and security, law and order," D’Alimonte said.
The local elections in Italy are being closely watched by analysts, some of whom consider them to be a test for the two ruling parties, Lega and M5S, ahead of the elections to the European Parliament in May.
After the results of the elections in Sardinia became known, the deputy prime minister and leader of M5S, Luigi Di Maio, said that nothing had changed for the government and the ruling coalition. Salvini, for his part, also noted that the results of Sardinia's vote changed nothing at the national level. Di Maio, however, said the party needed a shake-up and promised reorganization.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of experts and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.