The far-right conceded defeat Monday after a fierce battle in Italy’s regional elections for the left-wing bastion of Tuscany, providing a major boost for the fragile national government. “It’s an extraordinary victory,” the region’s centre-left candidate Eugenio Giani said, as far-right chief Matteo Salvini admitted “we knew it would be an extremely difficult fight”. Experts had warned that a flurry of far-right victories in the elections in seven regions could further fracture the brittle national governing coalition of the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) and its ruling partner, the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S). The highest-profile battle was for Tuscany, ruled by the left for 50 years. The left also quashed a bid by the coalition of Salvini’s League, Giorgia Meloni’s anti-immigration, anti-LGBT Brothers of Italy and Silvio Berlusconi’s centre-right Forza Italia to snatch Puglia.“What could have been elections that hammered the coalition government, that caused it to break apart, have transformed into elections that will allow it to survive and stay the course,” the Corriere della Sera’s editor in chief Luciano Fontana said. ‘Stopped in his tracks’The two-day vote went ahead despite a threatened resurgence of the coronavirus in Italy, which is now registering more than 1,500 new cases daily. Ballots were cast nationwide for a referendum on cutting parliament numbers, which passed easily. But all eyes were on elections held at the same time in Campania, Liguria, Marche, Puglia, Tuscany, Valle d’Aosta and Veneto.The PD only narrowly frustrated a League bid in January to take Emilia Romagna, one of its biggest strongholds. A win in Tuscany would have bolstered the right’s claim that the uneasy coalition — not elected, but installed after the previous government collapsed — was politically weak, and Italy’s president should bring forward the 2023 national election.