Rome gets first woman mayor as Renzi’s party hit hard

Democratic Party loses mayoral contests in Turin, Naples and Rome

Rome’s mayor-elect: Virginia Raggi of the Five Star Movement trounced her PD rival, Roberto Giacchetti. Photograph: Alessia Pierdomenico/Bloomberg

Rome’s mayor-elect: Virginia Raggi of the Five Star Movement trounced her PD rival, Roberto Giacchetti. Photograph: Alessia Pierdomenico/Bloomberg

 

For the second time in two weeks, the ruling Democratic Party (PD) of Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi was the biggest loser in weekend mayoral elections.  

As was widely expected, the most sensational result came in Rome where Virginia Raggi (37) of the Five Star Movement (M5S) trounced her PD rival, Roberto Giacchetti, in a two-person run-off vote, returning a massive 67.2 per cent of the vote. She will be Rome’s first woman mayor.

Not only did the PDs lose in Rome but their candidates were also defeated in two other major cities, Naples and Turin. If the victory in Naples of independent leftist and former anti-corruption magistrate Luigi De Magistris (66.8 per cent) had been widely expected, the same could not be said of the Turin result.

In a carbon copy of the Rome result, the sitting PD mayor, former government minister Pierro Fassino, was also beaten by an M5S woman candidate, Chiara Appendino, who polled 54.6 per cent of the vote.  

Commenting on the results on Monday afternoon, Mr Renzi said they would give his PD party pause for thought.

“We have to be frank here and admit that this vote has witnessed a very strong national trend . . . In almost every election in which the M5S ran against the PDs, the ‘movimento’ [M5S] won. This was a clear and undisputed win. However, there is no reason either to over-dramatise the result or to play it down. . .”

Mr Renzi said it had not been a protest vote but rather a vote for change, which had been won by those who had best interpreted the electorate’s “desire for change”. The prime minister seemed to be suggesting that, even if he had lost at the weekend, he was still close to the national mood since the biggest item on his political calendar is the holding of a referendum for constitutional change next October.  

The prime minister has staked his political future on a successful outcome to this referendum.

Mr Renzi, who doubles up the roles of prime minister and PD party leader, confessed that his party would have to examine last weekend’s results in detail at the next meeting of the PD executive on June 24th.

Defeated in Rome, Naples and Turin, the PDs did at least have the consolation of winning in Bologna and Milan.

These latter wins, however, were relative. Bologna is a traditional leftist stronghold where a win for any party other than the PDs, the inheritors of the former Italian Communist Party’s (PCI) following, would be unthinkable. In Milan, PD candidate Beppe Sala was a narrow 51.7 per cent to 48.3 per cent winner over his centre right opponent, Stefano Parisi.

The echo of Ms Raggi’s victory in Rome on Monday reverberated north to Montpellier and the Euro 2016 football championships. At a press conference before Wednesday’s clash between Italy and Ireland in Lille, experienced Italian international Daniele De Rossi, who plays for AS Roma, was asked for his opinion of the result in his home town. “Anyone who, like me, lives in the centre of Rome knows just how many problems the city has. I wish her [Ms Raggi] the best of luck. ”