World Italy's left claims victory in battle with far-right for Tuscany
The new Covid-19 case surge in Europe, explained
“My worry is that it’s a long winter.” Help keep Vox free for all Millions turn to Vox each month to understand what’s happening in the news, from the coronavirus crisis to a racial reckoning to what is, quite possibly, the most consequential presidential election of our lifetimes. Our mission has never been more vital than it is in this moment: to empower you through understanding. But our distinctive brand of explanatory journalism takes resources. Even when the economy and the news advertising market recovers, your support will be a critical part of sustaining our resource-intensive work.
The far-right looked set to lose a fierce battle for the left-wing bastion of Tuscany in Italy's regional elections Monday, in a ballot that had risked weakening an already fragile national government.
"It's an extraordinary victory," the region's centre-left candidate Eugenio Giani said, as exit polls showed him pulling significantly ahead of his far-right competitor.
Battle for Italy's far-right crown in Tuscany-led elections
Italians head to the polls this weekend, despite a coronavirus resurgence in Europe, for a referendum and Tuscany-led regional elections which analysts say could change the face of the far-right. - 'Italians first' mantra - The regional elections will be held in Campania, Liguria, Marche, Puglia, Tuscany, Valle d'Aosta and Veneto.It will be the first test for Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte's centre-left coalition government since the Covid-19 outbreak and the economically-crippling nationwide lockdown that followed.
Experts had warned a flurry of far-right victories in the elections in seven regions could further fracture the brittle national governing coalition of the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) and its ruling partner, the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S).
The highest-profile battle was for Tuscany, which has been ruled by the left for 50 years.
But with the PD's Giani celebrating and the far-right candidate from Matteo Salvini's League party sending him a congratulatory SMS, the far-right looked to have failed in its most ambitious attempt.
The two-day vote went ahead despite a threatened resurgence of the coronavirus in Italy, which was the first country in Europe to go into lockdown and is now registering more than 1,500 new cases daily.
Italy's 'Black Roosters' fight back as virus hit wine sales
Two days before the coronavirus pandemic shut down Italy for two months, shattering wine exports and sales, the owner of one of its most historic vineyards headed back into the country a worried man. Six months later Francesco Ricasoli and his wine-making team are leading the charge by Italy's "Black Roosters" -- the trademark for Chianti Classico -- to put the country's most famous label back on restaurant tables. "These are probably some ofSix months later Francesco Ricasoli and his wine-making team are leading the charge by Italy's "Black Roosters" -- the trademark for Chianti Classico -- to put the country's most famous label back on restaurant tables.
Ballots were cast nationwide for a referendum on cutting parliament numbers, which was set to pass easily, with an exit poll by Rai national broadcaster predicting around 69 percent for the "yes" vote.
But all eyes were on elections held at the same time in seven regions: Campania, Liguria, Marche, Puglia, Tuscany, Valle d'Aosta and Veneto.
- 'Stopped in his tracks' -
Giani looked set to take over 47 percent of votes in Tuscany, compared to 40 percent for the League party's Susanna Ceccardi, an MEP who has adopted Salvini's "Italians first" mantra.
"Salvini has been stopped in his tracks. The Tuscans did not fall for his propaganda," Simona Bonafe, the PD's party leader in Tuscany, was quoted as saying by Florence-based newspaper La Nazione.
Italy's left defeats far-right bid to take stronghold Tuscany
Experts warn far-right victories in the elections in seven regions could further fracture the Democratic Party.The two-day vote went ahead despite a threatened resurgence of the coronavirus in Italy, which is now registering more than 1,500 new cases daily.
The left also appeared to have quashed a bid by the coalition of Salvini's League, Giorgia Meloni's far-right Brothers of Italy and Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right Forza Italia to snatch neighbouring Puglia.
And it was set to easily hold Campania in the south.
The right was expected to triumph instead in its strongholds of Veneto and Liguria, as well as taking the Marche.
"What could have been elections that hammered the coalition government, that caused it to break apart, have transformed into elections that will allow it to survive and stay the course," the Corriere della Sera's editor in chief Luciano Fontana said.
A win in Tuscany would have bolstered the right's claim that the uneasy coalition -- not elected, but installed after the previous government collapsed -- was politically weak, and Italy's president should bring forward the 2023 national election.
The PD only narrowly frustrated a League bid in January to take Emilia Romagna, one of its biggest strongholds.
Ceccardi, 33, was until recently known only to the inhabitants of Casina, a porticoed town near Pisa, which was the first to turn to the League when she was elected mayor four years ago.
Since then, Renaissance art cities from Pisa to Siena have flipped to the right.
But the region has no glaring problems to drive a protest vote -- the health system has performed well during the Covid-19 pandemic, immigrants are well integrated, and the quality of life is high, political journalist Raffaele Palumbo told AFP.
Roberto Bianchi, contemporary history professor at Florence University, said the right has long tried to woo Tuscany -- to little effect.
"In 2000, a frustrated Berlusconi even launched a campaign to 'de-Tuscanise Tuscany'. It was a disaster," he said.
A European odyssey: A portrait of Europe during the pandemic .
Two journalists travelled from the North Cape to Sicily to document a Europe divided by the coronavirus crisis.The ruins gape at us, overgrown by stinging nettles and littered with plastic bottles. Through the rubbish, we can see the village of makeshift tents, home to about 300 refugees and migrants.