Italy’s far-right firebrand Matteo Salvini is facing a setback after his League Party looks set to be beaten by the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) in a closely watched election in the country’s north.
The left has governed Emilia-Romagna since the end of World War Two.
Mr Salvini focused on the area ahead of Sunday’s local election.
But an exit poll for state television is showing a narrow win for the PD, taking between 47% and 51% of the vote.
Mr Salvini’s League looked on course to take 44% to 48%. Final results are expected in the early hours of Monday.
The election had been seen as a test of the national coalition government, in which the populist Five Star Movement joined forces with the PD after Mr Salvini pulled his party out of office in what was seen as a tactical blunder.
However, Mr Salvini and his allies look set to beat the PD in another regional election in the southern region of Calabria, according to exit polls.