The new mayor of Rome is the Democratic candidate Roberto Gualtieri, who previously served as Minister of Economy and Finance in the government of Giuseppe Conte. In the second round of elections held in Italy on Sunday and Monday, 60.15% of the Romans voted for him. Mr. Gualtieri’s opponent, Enrico Michetti, nominated by the right-wing Liga and Brothers of Italy parties, won 39.85% of the vote. The leader of the Democratic Party, Enrico Letta, commenting on the victory in Rome and most other cities that elected mayors, said: this is a new trend among Italian citizens, who in the recent past cast their votes mainly to the right-wing parties.
It took a second round for Roberto Gualtieri to become mayor of Rome. Initially, 22 candidates took part in the struggle for the mayor’s office, among whom was Virginia Raji. Recall that in 2016 she became the first mayor of the Five Stars movement and also the first woman to lead the Italian capital.
More than five years of Ms Raji’s rule (due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the elections, which were supposed to take place in the spring, were postponed until the fall) did not meet the expectations of voters.
The mayor was criticized a lot – for the garbage crisis, problems with urban transport, the ongoing degradation of peripheral areas, and so on. And the prosecutor’s office even conducted a judicial investigation into the alleged abuse by Ms Raji.
The Romans expressed their disappointment in the first round of elections, which took place two weeks ago. Virginia Raji, for whom only 19% of voters voted, was only fourth at the finish line.
However, the mandate of the mayor of the Italian capital has long been considered a “high risk” position, whose holders have more than once completed their reign dramatically. The head of the Roman mayor’s office until Virginia, Raji Ignazio Marino was dismissed as a result of the party intrigues of the Democratic Party, which first nominated him to this post, and then did not give him confidence. And Giovanni Alemanno, who ruled Rome before him (a protege of the coalition of the right), found himself in the center of a corruption scandal and a large-scale trial in the case of connections with the mafia that followed.
It is not surprising that in recent years, many Romans have become convinced that their city cannot be governed at all, they say, there are so many conflicting interests intertwined that this nullifies any good intentions.
Roberto Gualtieri disagrees with this statement. He has promised to achieve effective management of the city and intends to “restart” it, turning it into a “real world capital.” He intends to start by cleaning the streets, which are really very dirty. Anyway, Rome looks like an extremely neglected city. So far, Mr. Gualtieri is optimistic. In any case, the Kommersant correspondent, who had met with Roberto Gualtieri more than once when he was in charge of the Ministry of Economy, never saw him as enthusiastic and joyful as last Monday, when it became clear that he won the race for Rome.
Roberto Gualtieri, 53, is a classic example of an Italian intellectual.
Historian, publicist and politician, since his student days he was an activist, first of the communist, and then of the center-left parties transformed from it, the successor of which is the current Democratic Party.
For a long time he was a member of the Democratic Party in both the Italian and European parliament. From September 2019 to February 2021, he was Minister of Economy and Finance in the second government of Giuseppe Conte, which consisted of representatives of the Five Star movement and the Democratic Party. As Minister of Economy, Roberto Gualtieri negotiated with the EU on the allocation of economic aid and soft loans to Italy to overcome the consequences of the pandemic – and these negotiations ended successfully. Note that Giuseppe Conte, who is currently the political leader of the Five Stars movement, supported the candidacy of Roberto Gualtieri during the campaign. And this is despite the fact that during the election campaign he has repeatedly stated that there will be no “five-star” in his team.
In Italy, it is customary to project the results of any voting into parliamentary elections. And today, many political scientists regard the victory of the protege of the Democrats in Rome as a significant political achievement of this party. Moreover, in addition to Rome, its candidates won in Turin, Milan, Bologna, Naples, as well as in the absolute majority of other cities that elected mayors.
The leader of the Democratic Party, Enrico Letta, described these results as “a reversal of the trend” of past years, when “the Democratic Party was in crisis,” and “it seemed that there was no alternative to the victory of the right.”
At the same time, according to him, these results give even greater support to the government of Mario Draghi, since, unlike the League, which questions almost all the antiquated restrictions of the current cabinet of ministers, and openly opposes the Brothers of Italy, the Democratic Party strictly supports all measures of Mr. Draghi to combat the pandemic (including the vaccination certificate, which has recently been compulsory for admission to workplaces).
At the same time, the editor-in-chief of the newspaper Il Messaggero, Massimo Martinelli, warns against extrapolating the results of the current vote to the upcoming parliamentary elections in 2023. He draws attention to the fact that in Rome only 47.4% of voters came to polling stations (the total for the whole of Italy is 43.9%) and that the lowest percentage of voters was noted in peripheral areas, traditionally voting for the right. Much will depend on how active this electorate will be in the parliamentary elections.
Currently, the most popular party in Italy is the Brothers of Italy (21%), followed by the League (19.4%), which, however, is not far behind the Democratic Party, gaining 19.2% of the vote.