Left and Right scrap for control of Rome

There have been elections all around Italy on the 3rd and the 4th October to choose new mayors for 1,342 municipalities. There has been a surprisingly negative voter participation, with a quite poor turnout of 55% at the national level, compared to a far better performance in 2016. 

Seen from the main perspective, the Centre-Left coalition won in most of the main cities, with Matteo Lepore significantly winning in Bologna (61.9%), Gaetano Manfredi in Naples (62.9%) and Beppe Sala in Milan (57.73%).

Nevertheless, there are still some main cities approaching a second ballot, most importantly Rome and Turin. Italians are called to express their preferences once more precisely on October the 17th and 18th. Concerning Turin, the candidate for the Centre-Left coalition, Stefano Lo Russo, is on the verge of succeeding, being already securely ahead in the close forecasts. On the other side of the country, the situation in Rome is much more convoluted and a clear path ahead is yet to become clear. Originally, there were four candidates in the eternal city in the first wave, each of them supported by one or more parties. 

Virginia Raggi: the last -and still current Mayor, supported by the “5 Star Movement”. She was elected in 2016, winning, even back then, on the second ballot with the PD candidate Roberto Giachetti, a Chamber of Deputies’ member now part of Italia Viva by Renzi. She got 67% of preferences in the last elections, which has been, in absolute terms, an extraordinary good and neat result, perhaps related to the golden period of the Movement in those years. She has been backed up for these last municipal elections by the 5 Star Movement, along with some own civic list. 

Carlo Calenda; once a PD member, he then founded his own party, “Azione”, in 2019. Against all the odds, he presented himself with only the support of his party, counting much more on his personal appeal towards voters, having already joined twice the government under the administrations of Renzi and Gentiloni as Minister of the Economic Development. He decided to run for the elections, among other reasons, in opposition to the centre-left coalition, in an attempt to define more clearly the identity of “Azione”. 

Roberto Gualtieri, a History professor at Sapienza University of Rome and most noticeably Minister of Economy in the Conte II, is the frontman of the Centre-Left coalition, counting on the support of jointly PD, PSI, “Europa Verde” and some minor left parties.  

Enrico Michetti is the candidate of the Centre-Right coalition. He was proposed by “Fratelli D’Italia”, with “Lega” and “Forza Italia” only agreeing to this after Salvini in return managed to get Luca Bernardo to contest Milan. 

The results in the first wave stated clearly the preferences of Italians, as predictable in any case, with regards to Michetti (30,1%) and Gualtieri (27%). Traditionally, in the next two weeks after the election results, there is a “quiet” period in which the two candidates review their programmes and boost up a final electoral campaign to maximise consensus collection in view of the second ballot. As many could have bet on, in those focal days a lot is done not only to promote the candidate, but also to discredit the opponent.  

Most of the debate recently focused on Michetti, be it for a good or ill. For instance, lately there have been some anti green-pass riots, with far-right supporters making up the bulk of the insurgents. Hence, Giorgia Meloni, naturally the closest in terms of positions and coming from “Alleanza Nazionale”, was asked to recognise the origin of this insurrection. But he did not explicitly clarify so, thus causing a wave of criticism from the Centre-Left world, eventually linking back to Michetti himself.  

The most notable episode was his electoral office being vandalised with threats, and claims of fascism against himself, forcing him to publicly admit to having been for many years a part of the DC, a moderate party in the Eighties and Nineties. 

The first public debate between the two candidates happened quite recently, in the TV programme “Porta a Porta” run by Bruno Vespa, one of the most historical and notorious political shows in Italy.

Many points in the two candidates’ ideas were similar, such as the creation of an innovative and technological system for the collection and disposal of garbage – perhaps one of the most pressing concerns for every Rome inhabitant. So far, most of the rubbish is sent to the North of Italy or even abroad, for instance to Austria, leaving Rome without a proper system. Nevertheless, other points in the programmes were quite different, with Gualtieri focusing on the green sector and Michetti on security.  

The result was that Gualtieri appeared much more prepared in terms of content and with a clearer plan. But Michetti looked like being able to understand in a more paternal way Rome’s issues. 

Now citizens are called to make their choice: will the professor or the lawyer win?    

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