Rome, June 26 (IANS/AKI) Italy’s centre-left Democratic Party (PD) took a drubbing in mayoral run-offs on Sunday, losing 12 out of 16 larger cities to the centre-right including historic strongholds such as the northwest port city of Genoa. Also Read - Woman Who Had Lost Her Memory Gets Reunited With Son After 15 Years, Thanks to Facebook!

Of the cities which previously had PD-backed Mayors, the PD only managed to make gains in the southern city of Lecce and the northeast city of Padua. Also Read - Good News! More Girls Are Now Being Adopted by Foreign Couples, UP Govt Credits 'Mission Shakti' Programme

PD leader and former premier Matteo Renzi, who is eyeing a return to power, said on Facebook that Sunday’s poll results were “patchy”. Also Read - Pompeii Archaeologists Discover Bodies of Men Killed in Volcanic Eruption Nearly 2,000 years Ago

“In terms of the total numbers of mayors, the PD is ahead, although it could have gone better,” he wrote on Monday. “Some losses hurt, starting with Genoa and L’Aquila,” he went on.

“But local elections and national elections are completely different things.”

The PD was the overall victor in the local polls, winning 67 of the councils in towns against 59 for the centre-right, and eight for the anti-establishment Five-Star Movement, according to a YouTrend pie-chart graphic tweeted by Renzi on Monday.

The Five Star Movement – which surveys say is slightly more popular than the PD nationwide – achieved dire results in the first round of voting on June 11 and made the run-off in only one of the 25 largest cities.

In the northern city of Parma, its incumbent Mayor was re-elected as an independent after he fell out with the Five-Star Movement leadership and left the party.

In the Genoa run-off, a candidate backed by Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia and the anti-immigrant Northern League party won with 55.24 percent of votes – over 10 percent points more than the centre-left candidate.

Northern League party leader Matteo Salvini claimed the Genoa result proved that Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni had lost the country’s support and should go.

“Today Gentiloni should resign,” Salvini said. “Italians want change.”

Turnout in Sunday’s run-offs was low at 46 percent, as the searing temperatures across much of Italy may have kept voters away from the ballot box.

The mayoral vote was seen as a litmus test ahead of national elections due by the end of May next year.

However, the first-past-the-post system used in local elections and which favours coalitions may not be the voting system for the general election, where proportional representation is currently used.

The local poll results were a boost for Forza Italia leader and ex-Premier Silvio Berlusconi, but also for his main rival Salvini, heightening a leadership battle between the two.

This is published unedited from the IANS feed.