"Roma has beeen abused by bad policy". These are the words used by Virginia Raggi to launch her campaign as the candidate of the Movimento 5 Stelle (M5S) for the position of the mayor of Rome.
Strong and clear words from a gracious young lawyer who has been a city councillor for the past 3 years and witnessed the Mafia Capitale saga. "It has not been an easy job", she said to me in a previous interview a couple of months ago, "but the experienced gained with my 3 colleagues Marcello De Vito, Danielle Frongia and Enrico Stefàno, allows me to feel confident we will be able change this corrupted system. Only with the help of the roman people, though. Politicians alone cannot do it. Every citizen should be part of the process".
At the top of her agenda are 3 issues voted for online by roman activists of (M5S), and therefore seen as constituting the highest priorities in the electoral campaign: mobility/transportation, transparency/legality, and the waste disposal emergency/recycling.
"We want residents to take their revenge with us, to reclaim the city and to return to life at last", she declares. "We're not looking merely to conquer votes, we want everyone to participate in this revolution. I'm referring to those residents who wake up at 5am every day and must wait for a bus to pass and those mothers who bend over backwards to find a decent public kindergarten for their children. Because policy is made by them, by traders, freelancers and craftsmen who pay the highest taxes in Italy but receive poor service and no welfare. We are not only a city, we are history. And someone tried to nullify us, speculating on our backs. Now's the time to take our revenge".
In the June election, Raggi will run against 4 candidates, already nominated, from cenre-right parties, along with candidates from the center-left, which has yet to hold its primaries. If she wins, she will be the first-ever female mayor of Rome.
Not an easy job, but there are notable precedents. "The role of women in ancient Rome was very important, even more so than today", says Roman history expert Alessandra Graziotin. "7 centuries bore Christ, during the kingdoms, roman women were very exploited. But a few centuries later, during the Roman Empire, they conquered a very strategic role. Not only did they rule family and finance, but with introduction of the matrimonio sine manu law they became the inheritors of family wealth. Italian students don't learn enough about the role of women in ancient Rome. School books just mention Lucrezia, or Cornelia, mother of the Gracchi brothers, or Messalina. But women of that time lived a much more complex reality. They were entrepreneurs as well as philosophers and made a great contribution to the history of the city".
So, we'll see if a woman is able to awaken the latent trust of the romans, a population considered the most disenchanted among the inhabitants of this beautiful country. Recent polling indicates the likelihood up to 50%, especially the young, will abstain from casting a vote. The most difficult task Raggi faces is to make a convincing case she and her councillors will be able to rid the public administration of corruption and realize reforms and infrastructural changes. Will romans believe her?