Rome goes to the polls again as Gualtieri and Michetti battle to succeed Raggi as mayor.
Romans will vote for a new mayor on Sunday and Monday in a run-off election after there was no outright winner in the mayoral polls two weeks ago.
The 'ballottaggio' will see Roberto Gualtieri (centre-left) and Enrico Michetti (centre-right) vie to succeed incumbent mayor Virginia Raggi of the populist Movimento 5 Stelle (M5S), who failed to get re-elected.
In order to be elected mayor in the first round, a candidate must get more than 50 per cent of the vote, otherwise the two highest-polling candidates will head into a run-off.
Michetti won 30 per cent of the vote in the first round, with Gualtieri taking 27 per cent, sending them head to head in the two-day ballottaggio on 17-18 October.
Who are the two candidates, what are they proposing, and who is backing them?
The candidate for the centre-left Partito Democratico (PD) is Roberto Gualtieri, 55, who served as finance minister under the second Conte government.
Gualtieri is an associate professor in contemporary history (on leave) at Rome's La Sapienza University.
He is also a founding member of the PD and served as an MEP, from 2009 to 2019, where he chaired the influential economic and monetary affairs committee.
If elected, Gualtieri says he would tackle Rome's trash problem by boosting separated waste collection and investing in plants to treat and recycle rubbish; introducing a digitilisation programme in city hall; increasing gardening services and tackling the pine tortoise scale parasite.
He also proposes having all city services “within 15 minutes” for residents of each area, from schools to public transport; investing in new trams; and extending the opening hours of the metro at weekends.
Gualtieri is endorsed by PD leader Enrico Letta and the Lazio region governor Nicola Zingaretti.
Crucially he has also received the backing of Carlo Calenda, the Azione leader who came third in the Rome mayoral race, as well as the M5S leader and former premier Giuseppe Conte.
Raggi, who could have supported Gualtieri or Michetti, has chosen not to endorse either candidate.
The centre-right mayoral candidate is lawyer and radio host Enrico Michetti, also 55, who until recently was unknown to most people outside of his Radio Radio listenership.
Michetti is backed by the centrodestra alliance of the far-right Fratelli d'Italia (FdI) of Giorgia Meloni; the right-wing Lega party of Matteo Salvini; and the centre-right Forza Italia of Silvio Berlusconi.
A law professor at the University of Cassino, Michetti was endorsed strongly by Meloni who convinced her allies to back the candidate she described as "an extraordinary professional."
Michetti is known to make cloying references to the glory of ancient Rome, telling reporters that “now is the time to give back to the Eternal City what it deserves, the role of caput mundi."
From the outset he promised a “very civil” election campaign and he has kept his word. Rival candidates accused him of being scant on detail, amid claims in the media that parts of his election programme were plagiarised.
Michetti made headlines earlier this year for suggesting on his radio show that it was time to revive the stiff-armed Roman salute because it would be more hygienic in the coronavirus era.
The week before the run-off he became embroiled in scandal when he was accused of being anti-Semitic over an article he wrote which suggested that the Holocaust is commemorated more than other massacres in history because the Jews "control banks and a lobby capable of deciding the fate of the planet." He subsequently offered a "sincere apology" to the Jewish community.
Michetti says that if elected he would create a special councillor for the suburbs to focus on improving “services, infrastructure and opportunities” in the areas furthest away from the city centre.
He would also allocate €250 million a year to invest in 6,000 km of roads and pavements; speed up the city's ATAC buses with new bus lanes and extra services; and construct 33km of new tram lines in time for Jubilee 2025.
With a focus on law and order, Michetti says: "We must return to Romans the pride of living, working and investing in the future of the Eternal City."
As the run-off date grew closer, he promised free bus passes for the over 65s and police as well as transport discounts for students.
The run-off election will be held in Rome on Sunday 17 October from 07.00-23.00 and on Monday 18 October until 15.00. The vote takes place against the back-drop of tensions over Italy's new Green Pass rules, which come into force on Friday, and an anti-fascist rally on Saturday.
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