Italy's Meloni and allies keep control of Basilicata region

FILE PHOTO: Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni speaks during a press conference in Belgrade

ROME (Reuters) - Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and her right-wing allies have kept control of the small southern region of Basilicata, election results on Monday showed, defeating their centre-left opponents by a wide margin.

Meloni's bloc had already retained control of the central Abruzzo region in another vote last month, and the triumph in Basilicata provides the prime minister with another boost ahead of a key election for the European Union parliament due in June.

With most of the ballots counted, the centre-right incumbent governor Vito Bardi had secured around 58% of the vote, while the main opposition candidate -- supported by the centre-left Democratic Party and the 5-Star Movement -- took just over 40%.

"My heartfelt thanks to all the people who confirmed their support for our policies. Your confidence in us is the motor that drives us forward every day," Meloni said on social media platform X.

Basilicata, a largely agricultural region in the underdeveloped south, had a long tradition of centre-left governments before Bardi won power in 2019 and his reelection is a fresh blow to the opposition.

After a brief display of unity which led them to oust the centre-right from power at regional elections in Sardinia in February, internal rivalries resurfaced within the left in recent weeks.

The PD and 5-Star were long unable to settle on a common candidate in Basilicata, and tension between them is mounting in the southern region of Puglia, where the 5-Star quit the local leftist administration hit by a judicial scandal.

(Reporting by Angelo Amante; Editing by Keith Weir)