According to preliminary figures, German-born Eike Schmidt has reached the runoff election for the mayoral office in Florence. According to projections published on Monday, the art historian Schmidt, who is supported by the right-wing camp, received 32.5 percent of the votes in the first round of the mayoral election, while his opponent Sara Funaro from the social democratic Partito Democratico (PD) received 41.6 percent.

The counting of the ballots only began on Monday afternoon. If the numbers are confirmed, neither Funaro nor Schmidt would achieve an absolute majority – and would have to wait until the runoff election on June 23 and 24.

Schmidt, who was naturalized last December, is supported by, among others, the ultra-right Fratelli d’Italia party of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and its coalition partners consisting of the Christian Democratic Forza Italia and the right-wing nationalist Lega. Until last year, the 56-year-old was director of the world-famous Uffizi art museum in the regional capital of the central Italian region of Tuscany.

Florence has so far been considered a stronghold of the Italian centre-left camp. If Schmidt’s 48-year-old rival Funaro prevails, she would be the first woman to lead the city.

The election recommendations of the candidates who lost in the first round will now be decisive for the chances of success of the two opponents. Stefania Saccardi from the centrist party Italia Viva, who came in third according to projections and received 6.1 percent, appears particularly important in this context.

Italia Viva is led by the former mayor of Florence, Matteo Renzi. Renzi was a member of the social democratic PD and head of the Italian government from 2014 to 2016, but later fell out with the party.