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Candidate for the centre-right coalition of parties Francesco Acquaroli holds a comfortable lead in opinion polls ahead of regional elections in the region of Marche to be held from September 20-21.
- Acquaroli is supported by the populist League of former Deputy PM Matteo Salvini, the nationalist Brothers of Italy, and the centre-right Forza Italia of former PM Silvio Berlusconi. Opposing Acquaroli is the centre-left coalition candidate Maurizio Mangialardi, supported by the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) and the centrist Italia Viva of former PM Matteo Renzi. The left-wing populist 5-Star Movement's (M5S) candidate is Gian Mario Mercorelli.
- Acquaroli has 49.0% and 51.8% support in two late-August polls, compared to 35.8% and 36.1% for Mangialardi.
- Marche is one of Italy's less-populated regions, with 1.5mn residents. It also forms part of the so-called 'red belt' of regions in Italy's centre - alongside Emilia Romagna, Tuscany, and Umbria - that have historically acted as strongholds for Italy's leftist parties.
- Since the advent of directly-elected regional presidents in 1995, Marche has only elected those from the PD and its centre-left forerunners.
- Earlier in 2020, a concerted effort from the PD and other left-wing and centrist parties ensured the centre-left retained power in Emilia-Romagna in a closely-contested election.
- A loss for the centre-left in one of its historic strongholds would present another blow to the already embattled PD, governing alongside M5S at the national level.