In Rome, the slow comeback of mayor Virginia Raggi after a disastrous debut

LETTER FROM ROME

The mayor of Rome, Virginia Raggi went into solitary confinement on November 4, when she tested positive for Covid-19 (she has since announced her recovery on her Facebook page). It was from her son’s room, requisitioned for the occasion, that she continued to monitor the affairs of the Italian capital, and that she notably recorded a video message in tribute to the comic actor and director Gigi Proietti, whose sudden disappearance on his 80th birthday sparked unanimous fervor in the city.

In this very special moment when the whole of Italy, hit hard by the second wave of the epidemic, enters a new phase of containment, the mayor of Rome does not miss an opportunity to pose as an ordinary citizen, living the same hassles as any Roman. “I know that not everyone has the possibility of having a room to isolate themselves”, did she not fail to stress, before insisting on the need to allow temporary accommodation in hotels for asymptomatic and mild patients – for the time being, in Rome, given the total shutdown tourism, there is no shortage of empty rooms.

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On August 10, in the torpor of summer, Virginia Raggi announced, with the support of her formation, the 5 Star Movement (M5S, anti-system) that she would run for a second term on Capitol Hill in the spring of 2021, and since then, she has discreetly returned to the countryside. The simple fact that this candidacy could be considered credible, after the disastrous start of his mandate, shows how the situation has changed in recent months in Roman politics.

Elected in June 2016 on the promise of returning some semblance of morality to a city plagued by decades of mismanagement and corruption scandals, Virginia Raggi had profited greatly from the crisis of traditional forces. His predecessor Ignazio Marino (Democratic Party, center left), entangled in corruption cases (he will then be cleared of all suspicion by the courts) and released by his own party, had to resign in 2015. Two years earlier, the previous one Right-wing mayor, Gianni Alemanno, splashed by the “Mafia Capitale” scandal, also had to throw in the towel – on October 23, he was sentenced on appeal to six years in prison for corruption and illicit financing.

First catastrophic steps

In this deleterious context and while the left as the right appeared discredited, this young 37-year-old lawyer embodied a hope for change shared by many Romans. In addition, its formation, the M5S, was then on the rise. His triumph (more than 67% of the vote in the second round) would be, according to his supporters, the signal of the beginning of the end for a political system at the end of its rope. Alas, his first steps were simply catastrophic.

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