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    Italian Interior Minister and right-wing League leader Matteo Salvini, gestures as he arrives for a lunch at an hotel in Milan, Italy, Monday, July 2, 2018. The leader of the right-wing party in Italy's populist government told tens of thousands of supporters Sunday he wants to turn next year's European Parliament election into a referendum on immigration and job security

    Right-Wing Lega Party Surges in Northern Italy's Regional Elections

    © AP Photo / Luca Bruno
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    The anti-immigrant Lega party, led Italy's Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, has dominated elections in the northern Alpine province of Trento and expanded their base in the neighboring area of Bolzano, trumping their coalition partners, the anti-establishment 5 Star Movement, amid their first disaccord in Italy’s government.

    Political battles in the serene mountainous region of Trentino Alto Adige in northern Italy have ended triumphantly for the right-wing pro-business Lega party, which out-competed centrists and left-wingers with 27% of the vote in Trentino.

    The Lega’s Maurizio Fugatti, who was also backed by the center-right coalition with Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia (Go Italy!) party, was elected as a provincial governor with 47% of the vote. Thus, the anti-immigration Lega party managed to overthrow the long-standing dominance of the center-left coalitions in the province, enjoying a significant degree of independence from the country’s government.

    The Lega party, led by Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, a vocal advocate of tougher migration control, Dhas also secured 11% of the vote in the neighboring predominantly German-speaking province of Bolzano. Although the pro-autonomy regional South Tyrolean People’s Party dominated the election in Bolzano, topping 40%, the vote outcome was a cause for celebration within the Lega party, which received only 2.5% in 2013, when it ran in a coalition with Berlusconi’s Forza Italia.

    Salvini joyfully tweeted that the results in Bolzano were “incredible.”

    “Real voters, real citizens, Italians don’t listen to the professors, journalists, whiny critics, and European bureaucrats, but they ask the League to move ahead more forcefully,” his tweet reads.

    Incidentally, Lega beat their partners in the coalition government, the anti-establishment 5 Star Movement, which got 2.4% of the vote in Bolzano and a slightly better result of 7.23% in Trento.

    READ MORE: Salvini Says Italy's Deficit Will Grow in 2019, Even If Budget Rejected by EU

    These elections came amid the first collision in the five-month-old government alliance, formed by the anti-immigrant Lega and anti-establishment 5 Star Movement, over the country’s budget, which prompted rumors about the government crisis.

    Meanwhile, the Lega party, which got 17% of the vote at a national election in March, has established itself as the country’s leading party with more than 30% approval, the recent polls show.

    Related:

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    Salvini Says Italy's Deficit Will Grow in 2019, Even If Budget Rejected by EU
    Italy Sends Police to Border With France Amid Migrant Row
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    right-wing parties, election, Movement 5 stars, Lega Party, Matteo Salvini, South Tyrol, Italy
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