Italy's centre-right unveils candidate in race for Rome mayor

Enrico Michetti is the  centrodestra candidate for mayor of Rome, running alongside Simonetta Matone.

The leaders of Italy's centre-right parties have agreed on lawyer and radio broadcaster Enrico Michetti as their candidate for mayor of Rome in elections to be held later this year.

The centrodestra alliance comprises the right-wing Lega party, led by Matteo Salvini; the far-right Fratelli d'Italia, led by Giorgia Meloni; and the centre-right Forza Italia, led by Silvio Berlusconi.

Born in Rome in 1966, Michetti will be on a ticket with magistrate Simonetta Matone, who is running to be deputy mayor.

Michetti, a professor of law at the University of Cassino and a host on Radio Radio, was endorsed strongly by Meloni who convinced her allies to back the candidate she describes as "an extraordinary professional."

Simonetta Matone and Enrico Michetti

Michetti said he is "happy and excited, grateful for the trust shown in these days, for the affection received," telling news agency Adnkronos that "now is the time to give back to the Eternal City what it deserves, the role of caput mundi."

Speaking on Radio Radio, Michetti assured: "It will be a very civil election campaign. I will not speak ill of anyone and I will speak only with projects and programmes."

Michetti recently made headlines for suggesting on his radio show that it was time to re-evaluate the stiff-armed Roman salute because it would be more hygienic in the covid-19 era.

The centre-right has waited a long time to announce its candidate to challenge incumbent mayor Virginia Raggi who is seeking a second five-year term in office.

The most talked-about potential candidate for the centre-right in recent months was Guido Bertolaso, the former civil protection chief who pulled out of the Rome mayoral race in 2016.

However, despite the pressure, Bertolaso frequently denied any intention of running again.

High-profile candidates in the 2021 race for Rome mayor include former Italian finance minister Roberto Gualtieri, for the centre-left Partito Democratico (PD), and Carlo Calenda, leader of the liberal Azione party.