Florence elects first woman mayor

Sara Funaro
[Getty Images]

Florence has elected its first woman mayor, Sara Funaro, in a decisive defeat of her right-wing opponent.

A local councillor with the centre-left Democratic Party (PD), her party retained its control of the city with more than 60% of the vote.

Eric Schmidt, the ex-director of the Uffizi Gallery, backed by Italy's far-right coalition government, took 39%.

The ballot completed a round of elections in which centre-left parties won in five regional capitals.

Speaking to reporters as the count was ongoing, Ms Funaro said: "I feel the excitement of all these months, the excitement of being the mayor of Florence."

She dedicated her win to her grandfather Piero Bargellini, a pre-eminent figure in Florence known as the "Flood Mayor" for leading recovery efforts during the deadly 1966 flood.

"We did very well. We are not sad at all," German-born Mr Schmidt said of the result.

Ms Funaro's historic win was one of series of gains for Italy's centre-left alliance, lead by the PD.

Voting on Sunday and Monday saw it retain control of the cities of Bergamo, in Lombardy, and Bari, in Puglia.

The alliance also won Cagliari, the Sardinian capital, and Perugia, in Umbria, from Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni's far-right ruling bloc.

It comes after the right made significant gains in European Parliament elections earlier this month.

In Italy, Ms Meloni increased the vote gained by her party in the 2022 general election with 29% of the vote, while the PD performed better than hoped with 24%.

This run-off round of mayoral elections was held in 14 Italian cities with more than 15,000 residents, where no candidate got more than 50% of votes in the first round, which took place alongside the EU Parliament elections.

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