Lombardy centre-right governor-elect vows weighty north

Centre-left takes Lazio in wake of PdL's public funding scandal

Milan, February 27 - The newly elected Northern League and centre-right governor of the Lombardy region, Roberto Maroni, challenged the Italian parliament on Wednesday after news of his official victory. "The north has enough power to shape choices by Rome's government if it will be, as it appears, a weak government," Maroni told right-wing editor and radio host Maurizio Belpietro in a telephone call on Wednesday. "As soon as the new government is formed, we are ready to negotiate. The North has a stable, homogeneous government. As for Rome?" he replied 'boh,' Italian slang for "who knows", and thus making reference to the deeply divided election results for the State parliament. Maroni said his priority as the newly elected governor of Lombardy was to create a macro-region in the north, which would consolidate the north's political weight. "Mission accomplished. We saved the (Northern) League. The victory in Lombardy allows us to to open a new phase with the constitution of macro-region of the north," Maroni declared after hearing election results, Corriere della Sera reported on Wednesday. Ex-interior minister under the last Silvio Berlusconi administration, Maroni ran on the centre-right coalition ticket in Lombardy, risking a renewed alliance with Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PdL) party, after a rupture under the Mario Monti-led technical government widened into a maw when both Northern League and PdL figures suffered battering from a series of corruption scandals, including criminal investigations that toppled centre-right regional governments in Lombardy and Lazio. Maroni's main challenger was the centre-left's Umberto Ambrosoli, who garnered 38.2% of the vote, compared to Maroni's 42.8%. Other candidates were Milan ex-mayor Alberto Albertini, who ran on a centre ticket, and Silvana Carcano of the rising populist, anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S). Albertini and Carcano won 4.1% and 14.3% of the Lombardy vote, respectively. In Rome's Lazio region, the centre left succeeded in taking advantage of the demise of the last centre-right regional administration, which collapsed in September when outgoing governor Renata Polverini was forced to resign from the regional council under a widening public funds scandal. Roman voters in particular threw their weight behind the Democratic Party's (PD) Nicola Zingaretti, who ran on a platform of rigor and sobriety. Out of Zingaretti's total lead of 370,000 votes, 323,000 came from Rome. Zingaretti took 40.6% of the vote versus 29.4% for centre-right stalwart and ex-minister Francesco Storace. M5S drew impressive support in Lazio, with candidate Davide Barillari coming up third with 20.3% of the vote. Lazio's south-central neighbor, Molise, also saw the centre-left win at its regional polls. Paolo Di Laura Frattura took the governor's office with 43.7% of the vote versus 26.7% for the centre-right's Angelo Michele Iorio.

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