Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has suffered a setback in local elections. Amy Pollock reports looks at the impact the poll could have on his reform plans.
Italy's Matteo Renzi isn't used to losing at the ballot box. But Sunday's local elections saw his ruling Democratic Party struggle at the expense of the right-wing Northern League and anti-establishment 5-star Movement. Renzi needed support to keep up momentum for his labour, education and constitutional reforms. He hoped signs of economic recovery would be enough to outweigh corruption scandals and internal party friction. The euro zone's third largest economy posted growth of 0.3 percent in the first quarter after three years of recession. Jan Randolph is Head of Sovereign Risk Analysis at IHS Global Insight. (SOUNDBITE) (English) DIRECTOR OF SOVEREIGN RISK ANALYSIS, IHS GLOBAL INSIGHT, JAN RANDOLPH, SAYING: "The reform programme he's implementing has been bearing some fruit. The main objective and success so far for the Renzi government has been the attraction of foreign investment." Renzi's party still won five of the seven regions that voted, but he only secured 22% of the vote - in the European elections last year he won 41%. In Liguria a breakaway centre-left candidate, and the left-wing 5-star movement had a strong showing. And in Veneto, the anti-immigrant Northern League, won decisively - and it's in favour of scrapping the euro. Franco Pavoncello from Rome's John Cabot University says it's not like the rise of the Podemos party in Spain (SOUNDBITE) (English) POLITICS PROFESSOR, JOHN CABOT UNIVERSITY, FRANCO PAVONCELLO, SAYING: "The 5 Star movement held, they got 20 percent but we didn't see this sweeping victory of radical movement or anti-euro, anti-austerity movement. So from this point of view I, my feeling is that we have to be careful not to over-emphasize this election for the future of the present government." The decline in support for Renzi will make it harder for him to implement the reforms which are being resisted fiercely by unions and the political opposition. After a long recession and Brussels-inspired austerity, he'll be worried that anti-system parties are on the rise.