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Rome's first female mayor

Virginia Raggi has been elected as Rome's first female mayor, a triumph for the populist Five Star Movement (M5S), the anti-establishment party founded by the comedian Beppe Grillo. M5S candidates have in the past been elected as mayors of a handful of medium-sized towns, but never in big cities.


The Renzi's centre-left Democratic Party (PD) defeat in Rome had been expected after widespread criticism of its management of Rome over the past three years, with its mayor forced to resign in 2015 for a scandal over his expenses. It was a landslide victory. Raggi had two-thirds of the votes cast in a run-off contest with Roberto Giachetti of PD. 


Over the last two years, Rome has been hit by one public corruption scandal after another, known collectively as “Mafia Capitale”. The former mayor, Ignazio Marino, resigned over an investigation into his expenses, while the city's corruption in almost every public sector was revealed.


The new Mayor, Virginia Raggi, who is not only the first woman to be in office as mayor of Rome but also the youngest, has declared that legality and transparency are her priorities.   


Raggi became one of the best-known faces in Italian politics in the space of only a few months during the campaign trail. A lawyer and local councillor she was previously almost completely unknown to the public.


As a result of these municipal elections M5S has emerged as the main opposition to Renzi's coalition and its success in Rome could have consequences for the general elections due in 2018.


Besides Rome, the PD also suffered a shock defeat in Turin losing to M5S, but held on to power in Italy's financial capital Milan. As a consolation for Renzi, the PD stayed in power in Milan, and in the northern city of Bologna. In Milan, the PD’s Giuseppe Sala achieved a narrow victory over his centre-right rival, Stefano Parisi. Sala made his name in the city as chief executive of last year’s Expo world fair, which was deemed a success despite preparations being marked by protests and corruption scandals.


In Naples the PD was out of the race before Sunday’s run-off election, with independent Luigi De Magistris being re-elected obtaining two-thirds of the vote against the centre-right’s Gianni Lettieri.


A major shock for Renzi's party was the loss in Turin, centre-left stronghold, where the incumbent, Piero Fassino, a well known veteran party member, was swept aside by Chiara Appendino, 31 years old, who overtook him by 11 points.


The president of the lower house of parliament, Laura Boldrini, who has suffered misogynistic insults and threats during her political career, celebrated the victories of Raggi and Appendino.

The election of Raggi and Appendino has opened a linguistic debate due to the fact that female mayors are such a novelty in Italy. The word “sindaco” has only a male form like many other titles in Italy. Times are changing, therefore it could be necessary to find a female form for these titles.

Giulia Lombardo

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