Right-wing basks, leftists regroup after local vote in Italy

Italy's ruling center-left Democratic Party is picking up the pieces after a weekend drubbing in local elections while former Premier Silvio Berlusconi is basking in his latest political rebound and an alliance with an anti-immigrant right-wing party.

Democratic leader Matteo Renzi acknowledged internal divisions that have torn the Democratic Party apart, saying in a Facebook post Wednesday that he wanted to move beyond them to confront the issues that Italians care about.

But his culture minister, Dario Franceschini, said the party had to do some soul-searching after it lost its longtime stronghold of Genoa and other cities to a center-right alliance headed by Berlusconi's Forza Italia party and the anti-immigrant Northern League.

"When you lose, it means that something broke with your electorate, with the country, and you have to figure out what it is," Franceschini told the La Repubblica newspaper.

Renzi's forces had hoped to pick up support from voters who had backed the populist 5-Star Movement in the first round of voting on June 11. The 5-Stars lost badly in that round, failing to pick up any major city including Genoa, the hometown of its founder, Beppe Grillo.

Instead, the Democrats were stung by a low turnout. The center-right, meanwhile, capitalized on the Democratic Party's internal divisions as well as alarm over immigration and Italy's poorly performing economy.

Berlusconi said he was particularly pleased with the win in L'Aquila, which he had promised to rebuild as premier after it suffered a devastating 2009 earthquake.

In the past, local voting results didn't always correlate with national elections. Italy will hold national elections for Parliament and the premiership by spring 2018.