Rome has elected the first woman mayor in a historic landslide victory of the anti-establishment crusader, Virginia Raggi. With 67 percent of the votes, the lawyer and relative outsider representing the Five Star Movement (Movimento 5 Stelle, or M5S) is set to become the first female to occupy the mayor’s office in Rome.
Raggi’s victory comes as yet another outburst of the Italians’ frustration with long-time political outfits such as the Democratic Party, whose candidate Roberto Giachetti admitted defeat in the ballots. Significantly, Rome’s election of its first woman mayor came hot on the heels of Turin electing M5S candidate Chiara Appendino as its first woman mayor.
A lawyer and mother, Raggi is one of the prominent faces of the M5S party created by maverick Italian comedian and activist, Giuseppe Piero ‘Beppe’ Grillo in the aftermath of the economic crisis faced by Italy in 2009. In reflection of the party’s populist image, Raggi and her party colleagues are always seen as effusive and approachable, without the pomp and ceremonial seriousness of Italy’s older political movers.
In a campaign that was at a stark contrast with Italian Prime Minister Mattio Renzi’s faction-ridden Democratic Party’s conventional approach, Rome’s first woman mayor moved away from traditional political claims and announced moderate promises which seemed to have captured the Romans’ imagination. The election of the first woman mayor by Rome is also the outpouring of dissent over the Italian capital’s transport systems that are wracked by unhappy strikers, inadequate sanitation and trash collection, and ravaged roadways in need of repairs.
However, the mayor is poised on the apex of a particularly historic development that not only challenges Rome’s patriarchal past in politics but also essays the rise of a woman who came into politics a mere five years ago — a move, she told AFP, as reported by The Local, that she made when her son Matteo was born in 2009 and when she realised that she would not wish to inhabit a sleaze-ridden city without being a part of the change-making apparatus in it.
The campaign’s slogan of “onesta“- Italian for honesty is something that the new mayor of Rome wishes to uphold in her days in office, as can be seen in her tweet below which translates to, “Today we need two qualities: honesty and truth.”
The election of Rome’s first woman mayor is also a path for the M5S to achieve a slightly more significant success in the Senate elections of 2018 than the one it had in 2013. No one is more convinced of this than Virginia Raggi, who dances in rhythm with her supporters’ chants, is social media friendly (her Facebook page is followed by 300,112 people) and a less corrupt, more equal civic administration for the eternal city of Rome. Her victory speech says as much.
“A new era is beginning with us. We’ll work to bring back legality and transparency to the city’s institutions.”