As Rome's municipal election campaign steps up a gear, the top four of the 19 candidates running for mayor are preparing to hold high-profile rallies in the capital on 24 May, ahead of the vote on 26-27 May.
The main centre-right candidate and incumbent mayor Gianni Alemanno, who is seeking a second term of office, plans to hold a final election rally at the Arch of Constantine, beside the Colosseum, at 15.00 on Friday 24 May.
He will be joined by ex-premier and leader of Il Popolo della Libertà (PdL) Silvio Berlusconi who last September suggested that the mayor consider not running again after a string of unfavourable opinion polls. However Berlusconi has since given his full support to Alemanno, although Berlusconi’s poster invitations to the Colosseum prompted some detractors to scrawl messages such as “I’ll bring the lions”.
Alemanno’s manifesto includes calls for greater security measures, reform of the city administration based on meritocracy and efficiency, closure of unauthorised Rom camps, more initiatives for young people and proposals to develop and market Ostia beaches to foreign visitors.
The principal centre-left contender for mayor is surgeon Ignazio Marino who was elected as the Partito Democratico (PD) candidate in a controversial primary early in April. In his manifesto Marino calls for Rome to be a more international, ecological, ethical, welcoming and safe city that respects the rights of women and protects its tourists. He proposes an administration that makes the lives of people living in Rome “easier, safer and faster”.
His website which has encouraged users to insert a message on a poster of Marino holding a sign reading “That’s what a mayor does” is now showing 60 pages with many ironic suggestions such as “Fountains that give wine” and “If I win, porchetta for everyone”.
Marino will hold a rally and concert at Piazza di S. Giovanni in Laterano from 17.30, featuring well-known Italian musicians and actors such as Nicola Piovani and Alessandro Gassman.
The manifesto of independent candidate and businessman Alfio Marchini includes greater decorum on the city’s streets; the scrapping of the highly-unpopular property tax Imposta Municipale Propria (IMU) on principal residences; tax breaks for employers; increasing the efficiency of the city’s public transport and refuse collection; and greater support networks for the young and the elderly.
The entrepreneur has succeeded in securing veteran Roman singer Antonello Venditti – traditionally associated with the left – to sing at a concert at Parco Schuster in Ostiense at 18.30 on 24 May. Marchini describes the event, which will also feature the Roman comedian Maurizio Battista, as "a party for all Romans”.
The same evening, at 18.00, the Movimento 5 Stelle candidate and lawyer Marcello De Vito will hold a rally at Piazza del Popolo. The event will take place in the presence of M5S leader, Genoese comic Beppe Grillo, and De Vito promises it to be an evening conducted in the usual “atmosphere of celebration, of peaceful democracy.”
De Vito says that if elected, the first thing he will do is study the city’s books to see “where the losses are arising”, as well as checking all acts and nominations to ensure there is no mismanagement in the city administration. He would also oppose the privatisation of ACEA, Rome’s water and electricity supplier, and AMA Roma, the capital’s refuse company.
The fact that public transport unions have decided to hold a 24-hr strike on the same day as the final political rallies guarantees a doubly-difficult day for Rome’s commuters on 24 May.
All cars parked on Via S. Gregorio – the venue of Alemanno’s rally – will be removed from 08.00 that morning. Buses around the Colosseum (which will remain open as normal) will be diverted from 15.00 coinciding with the closure of the Colosseum Metro B stop.
Similar disruptions will take place in Piazza S. Giovanni in Laterano, with all cars being removed from the square from 13.00, as well as bus diversions. The roads around Piazza del Popolo will be closed to traffic, and around Parco Schuster in Ostiense all parked cars will be removed although there are no planned diversions of public transport.
The first day of voting, Sunday 27 May, is complicated by the Coppa Italia final between rival teams AS Roma and Lazio. The highly-anticipated match begins at the Stadio Olimpico at 18.00, three hours in advance of the normal kick-off time. In response to the violence that occurred at the Rome-Lazio derby on 8 April, there will be over 1,000 police in the area around the stadium as well as in key city-centre locations where post-match celebrations are likely to take place.