Silvio Berlusconi, 80, is set for an astonishing comeback after sweeping election victories for Italy's right-wing, as critics admit the former prime minister is 'politically immortal'
- Italy's right-wing parties won 16 out of 22 cities in Sunday's local elections
- Berlusconi's Forza Italia and the far-right Northern League dominated
- It positions the former Prime Minister as a kingmaker in Italian politics
- Berlusconi was forced out six years ago after a sex scandal
Published: 10:26 EDT, 26 June 2017 | Updated: 20:42 EDT, 26 June 2017
Italy's right celebrated Monday after big victories in local elections, with all eyes on a potential comeback for former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi - just months before the country holds national elections.
The 80-year-old billionaire's Forza Italia (Go Italy) party and the far-right Northern League won 16 of the 22 cities up for grabs Sunday.
Their victory was a shock setback for the governing centre-left Democratic Party.
Berlusconi's Forza Italia and the far-right Northern League dominated the local elections
The loss of the city of Genoa was a particularly big blow. The northern city has traditionally been a bastion of the left, but it passed to the centre-right for the first time.
Former centre-left prime minister Matteo Renzi, dismissed the wins as having little bearing on national voter sentiment.
But the mood on the left was sombre. Editorialist Riccardo Barenghi wrote in the left-leaning Italian newspaper La Stampa that it 'couldn't have gone worse'.
He added: 'Not just for Matteo Renzi, not just for the [Democratic Party]. But for the whole of the Italian left.'
'[It was] as if we'd gone back 23 years to when the left was beaten by the Cavaliere ('The Knight', Berlusconi's nickname), who appeared on the scene like a rabbit from a magician's hat, and today reappears like a castigating ghost.'
The next general election must be held by spring 2018, but the coalition supporting Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni is fragile and many experts say the government could call elections for late in the year.
Left-leaning Italian newspaper La Stampa that it 'couldn't have gone worse' for the left
At the national level, the PD and the populist Five Star Movement (M5S) are running neck-and-neck in the polls, each with about 30 percent of voter intentions, while Forza Italia and the Northern League are each hovering at around 14 percent.
Political commentator Stefano Folli called Sunday's results 'a searing and very painful loss for the left.'
He wrote in the left-leaning La Republica: 'Berlusconi reveals himself to be politically immortal.
Berlusconi, 80, had been largely absent from politics - though not the gossip pages - following his ousting in 2011 and his party had since struggled with internal divisions and corruption scandals.
Lefties always have no sympathy for their own national needs
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