Italy: Mayor of Rome? Conte says 'No thanks'

Giuseppe Conte says 'No, grazie" to idea of running as Rome mayor.

Italy's outgoing premier Giuseppe Conte was asked by reporters if he had his eye on becoming mayor of Rome. "No, grazie," he replied, as he walked through the streets of the capital on 8 February.

Conte steered Italy throughout the covid-19 crisis but resigned last month following a political crisis triggered by former premier Matteo Renzi which led to the Italian president tasking economist Mario Draghi with forming a new government.

Conte's name began to circulate as a potential Rome mayoral candidate as soon as he stepped down, however the possibility of Italy's economy minister under Conte - Roberto Gualtieri - of running for mayor in the capital has also been floating around in recent months.

Conte does not belong to any party but is close to the populist Movimento 5 Stelle (M5S) while Gualtieri is a member of the centre-left Partito Democratico (PD) party, both of which were coalition partners in the last government.

Gualtieri has a powerful ally in the shape of premier-designate Mario Draghi, with whom he worked in Brussels, while the PD party secretary Nicola Zingaretti is also the president of the Lazio region around Rome.

The PD has not declared its hand yet but it will be keen to try and "retake" the capital after five years, since incumbent mayor Virginia Raggi succeeded Ignazio Marino in 2016.

In the race for Rome's top job is the prominent Italian politician and manager Carlo Calenda, leader of the liberal and progressive political party Azione, who parted ways with the PD after it entered into coalition with the M5S in the Conte II cabinet in August 2019.

Federico Lobuono, a 20-year-old entrepreneur, has also declared himself a candidate in the mayoral race and is the youngest candidate to run for mayor in the history of Italy.

Raggi, Rome's first woman mayor, is seeking a second term in office, despite misgivings within her ranks, including from her former deputy mayor Luca Bergamo who she replaced recently.

In her five years in office, Raggi points to her success in tackling Rome's mafia clans, "cleaning up" city hall after the notorious Mafia Capitale case, and making some progress in getting the accounts in order in a deeply indebted capital.

However opponents claim that little has changed in terms of quality of life in Rome, particularly in sectors such as waste management and public transport.

Rome's municipal elections are due to take place no later than June 2021.

Photo La Repubblica. Video Corriere della Sera.