Rome elected its first female mayor Monday delivering a huge blow to Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s Democratic Party (PD).
The 5-Star Movement’s (M5S) Virginia Raggi reportedly led by a 2-1 margin with almost 80 percent of the votes counted. Her rival, Democrat Roberto Giachetti from PD, conceded defeat less than an hour after the polls closed Sunday. He said that he had called to congratulate Raggi and wish her luck.
“For the first time, Rome has a female mayor in an age where equality of opportunity remains a mirage,” Raggi said, “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.”
The PD, however, still has a strong hold over Italy’s financial capital Milan and the northern city of Bologna where the party beat more traditional, center-right candidates, reports said.
The anti-establishment M5S was founded by comedian Beppe Grillo seven years ago. After the massive wins in Rome and Turin, the party is posing a serious threat to the PD. Prime Minister Renzi, who came to power in 2014 with a promise to revive Italy’s poor economy, is banking on an October referendum in which he wants Italians to back far-reaching constitutional reforms.
The administration in Rome has been facing a horde of challenges, including rampant corruption and a string of financial scandals. Raggi’s predecessor, PD's Ignazio Marino, reportedly resigned over a funding scandal and Rome had been left without a Mayor since October. Special commissioner Francesco Paolo Tronca had taken over the capital in the meantime while Italy’s anti-corruption watchdog kept a close eye on the administration.
One of Raggi’s main campaign promises was to put an end to corruption focusing on a “mafia capital” scandal. City hall officials were reportedly involved in stealing millions from the state, which contributed to the dire state of Rome’s public services. The male-dominated world of Italian politics also poses a challenge to the 37-year-old lawyer.