Rome readies for mayoral run-off election on 19 June

Roberto Giachetti (PD) and Virginia Raggi (M5S) face it off.

On 19 June Romans return to the polls for a run-off between Virginia Raggi of the anti-establishment Movimento Cinque Stelle (M5S) and Roberto Giachetti of the Partito Democratico (PD) after neither mayoral candidate took the 50 per cent plus one vote needed for outright victory in the first round.

On that occasion Raggi polled 35.25 per cent and Giachetti took 24.87 per cent.

Opinion polls have consistently put Raggi in the lead and should they be confirmed in the ballot box on Sunday the 37-year-old civil lawyer and mother of one would become Rome’s first ever woman mayor.

Roberto Giachetti

Giachetti is the current deputy speaker of the chamber of deputies and former chief of cabinet in the city administration led by Francesco Rutelli (1993-2001).

Following early militancy in the Radical Party he co-founded the now defunct centre-left Margherita before jumping onto the new PD bandwagon in 2007.

Giachetti is a regular hunger striker and takes a particular interest in human and civil rights, the conditions in Italian jails, environmental protection and sustainable development.

He is also passionate about institutional regulations and has earned a reputation for knowing the rules governing the chamber of deputies like the back of his hand.

He has been an MP since 2001 but his parliamentary activity has always been accompanied by initiatives aimed at encouraging grass-roots participation especially among young people.

He has said his first actions as Rome mayor would be to make public transport free for the over 70s and half-price for the under 20s, introduce 150 new buses and set up an emergency hotline for reporting potholes.

He is in favour of Rome's bid for the 2024 Olympic Games.

55-year-old Giachetti is prime minister and PD secretary Matteo Renzi’s choice of candidate and won the centre-left primaries in Rome in March.

Virginia Raggi

Raggi grew up in the S. Giovanni-Appio Latino neighbourhood but now lives in the Ottavia district in northwest Rome.

She graduated in law from Roma Tre university in 2003 and qualified three years later. She now works for the Sammarco law firm in the capital, where she specialises in intellectual property. According to her CV on the firm’s website she speaks English and French.

Raggi joined MS5 in 2011 and was elected to Rome city council in 2013.

She was chosen as the movement’s mayoral candidate in February after winning an on-line poll among registered M5S supporters in Rome with 1,764 out of a total of 3,862 votes (45.5 per cent).

Her election campaign has focussed more on attacking her adversaries than on setting out her policies and programme.

She says she intends to renegotiate Rome’s over €12 billion debt and build a cable car linking the Battistini and Casalotti districts in west Rome, as well as boosting existing bike and car sharing facilities.

She has always been opposed to Rome’s bid to host the 2024 Olympics, although since the first-round vote on 5 June she would appear to have softened her stance, suggesting that she might postpone a final decision until October.

She is in favour of the progressive closure of segregated 'nomad' camps for the city's ethnic Roma population and making residents find formal accommodation and work. She also takes a hard line against politically and socially active squat communities (centri sociali).

Skeletons in the cupboard include a post-university legal apprenticeship in the Rome firm of lawyers founded by ex defence minister and former Berlusconi aide Cesare Previti, a convicted criminal.

Between 2008 and 2009 she also chaired the board of directors of HGR, a local debt-collection company loosely linked to the former right-wing mayor Gianni Alemanno.

Voting in Rome

In total 8,610,142 people are called to vote in run-off elections in 126 municipalities across Italy on June 19.

Voting in other major cities

Other major cities implicated in the vote include Turin, where Chiara Appendino of M5S is challenging incumbent PD mayor Piero Fassino, Milan where the battle is between the centre-left’s Beppe Sala and Stefano Parisi of the centre-right, Bologna where incumbent PD mayor Virginio Merola will clash with Lucia Borgonzoni of the Lega Nord, and Naples where incumbent independent mayor Luigi De Magistris faces Gianni Lettieri of the centre-right.

Laura Clarke

See Laura in Italy for other news and views about Rome and Italy.