Immigrants in Rome will have a hard time voting on Sun 28 March, the day set for the election of their representatives to city's central and area councils. Voting certificates are being sent out late and even if they arrive in time immigrants will still have to contend with the Rome marathon in order to get to the voting stations. The annual race, which starts from the Colosseum just after 09.00 on Sunday and takes in large sections of the city, always brings public and private transport to a standstill for most of the day.

Some 33,000 immigrants, or about 10 per cent of those eligible, have registered to vote in these elections, the first of their kind to be held in Rome. The polling booths in all 19 municipalities will be open from 8.00-22.00.

There are 51 candidates for the four seats on the Rome city council and 171 candidates for the 19 seats on the municipal councils. Those elected will have the right to attend council meetings and join in the debate but the will not be allowed to vote.