The Italian left retains its historic stronghold in Emilia-Romagna (north), with little margin in front of the list of ultra-rightist Matteo Salvini, but loses Calabria, according to polls at the end of the ballot at the end of the regional elections this Sunday.
In Emilia-Romagna, a fief of the left for 70 years, the candidate of the Democratic Party (PD, center-left), Stefano Bonaccini, would obtain 49.7% of the votes, according to polls published by RAI public television.
His main rival, Lucia Borgonzoni, bet of Salvini and his right-wing coalition partners, would get 44.7%.
In Calabria, governed by the left since 2014, the right-wing candidate, Jole Santelli, supported mainly by the "Forza Italia" of Berlusconi and Salvini, would be imposed with 51.7%, compared to the left-wing candidate, Filippo Callipo, (31.1%).
Sentelli has already celebrated his triumph with the exponent of Forza Italia and former president of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani.
Five and a half million Italians were called to the polls in those two regions, in elections that Salvini had raised as a plebiscite on the central government, in the hands of the Five Star Movement (M5S) coalition and the center-left.
The polling stations closed at 23.00 local time (22.00 GMT) and the scrutiny will continue throughout the night.
As for the participation, in Emilia-Romagna it has doubled to 65.44%, compared to 36.10% in 2014, while in Calabria it was almost online, with an influx of 38.88% of the census, compared to to 40.13 five years ago.
Salvini, who has turned his efforts on Emilia-Romagna, asked to wait for the final results, with a serious countenance.
His party, the League, would confirm the first game in that region with 31.7% of the votes, although with a slight drop compared to the last European elections (33.8): "For me it is an emotion that after 70 years we played such a game, "said Salvini.
If these projections are confirmed, the analysts see Salvini as one of the losers of the day, not achieving the conquest of Emilia-Romagna, his most desired goal, and above the winning candidate in Calabria is not his bet, but his partner Berlusconi
The leader of the PD, Nicola Zingaretti, expressed his satisfaction with the results in the northern region, said that the "extremist" Salvini "has lost the elections" and thanked the citizen movement of the "sardines" for promoting participation.
On the other hand, the projections in Emilia-Romagna also confirm the fall of the Five Star Movement, whose leader, Luigi Di Maio, resigned this week: his candidate, Simone Benini, would obtain between 2 and 5%, compared to 13, 3% achieved five years ago.
These elections are considered to be of utmost relevance in Italy, especially in the case of Emilia-Romagna, a true leftist fief, who has ruled her in the 70 years of democracy.
An eventual triumph in that region of Salvini and his coalition with parties such as the conservative "Forza Italia" by Silvio Berlusconi would have been a real blow to the leftist parties.
So much so that the ultra-rightist Salvini saw them as a way to demonstrate his electoral strength to the central government, formed by the coalition of the M5S and formations such as the PD, the leftist Free and Equals and the centrist Italia Viva.
Salvini, leader of the League, the main party of Italy, left the Executive last August after giving up his coalition with the Five Stars, in a failed attempt to advance elections, as the current coalition emerged.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has ruled out possible repercussions on the Government as a result of these elections.