ROME: Virginia Raggi was elected Sunday as Rome’s first female mayor in a triumph for the populist Five Star Movement (M5S) that represents a stinging setback for Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.
Raggi swept into City Hall with two thirds of the votes cast in a run-off contest with Roberto Giachetti of Renzi’s center-left Democratic Party (PD).
The anti-establishment M5S also claimed control of the northern city of Turin, where another woman, Chiara Appendino, 31, ousted the sitting PD mayor with the help of backing from the far-right Northern League.
The only consolation for Renzi was that the center-left held on to Milan, where the former World Expo director Giuseppe Sala squeezed home with 51 percent, as well as claiming predicted wins in Bologna and Naples.
“For the first time Rome has a female mayor in an age where equality of opportunity remains a mirage,” Raggi said in a typically coolly delivered victory speech.
“I will be a mayor for all Romans. I will restore legality and transparency to the city’s institutions after 20 years of poor governance. With us a new era is opening.”
In Turin, Appendino struck a similar note.
“We have made history,” she said. “This was not a protest vote, it was about pride and change.”
Time for change
Raggi, a 37-year-old lawyer and local councilor who was a complete unknown only a few months ago, had been widely expected to claim the keys to Rome’s Michelangelo-designed City Hall.
But the margin of her victory exceeded even the most ambitious expectations of a movement founded by comedian Beppe Grillo only seven years ago.