Florence elects first woman mayor

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), it retained governance of the Italian city with more than 60% of the vote.

Eike Schmidt, the ex-director of Florence’s famous 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.

A political novice, German-born Mr Schmidt said: “We did very well, we are not sad at all”.

Ms Funaro’s historic win was one of a 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.

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