Rome was poised for government by its first woman mayor last night as exit polls showed Virginia Raggi, of the Five Star Movement (M5S), scoring a dazzling electoral victory with as much as 66 per cent of the vote.
It marks a bitter blow for the Italian prime minister, Matteo Renzi, and his embattled Democratic Party, whose candidate could manage only about 34 per cent.
Instead, the decisive victory for the telegenic 37-year-old lawyer and her anti-corruption platform marks a huge shot in the arm for the anti-establishment party headed by the raucous comic Beppe Grillo who was in Rome at M5S headquarters celebrating with Ms Raggi.
Virginia Raggi votes during municipal elections earlier this month Virginia Raggi votes during municipal elections earlier this month Credit: Marco Ravagli/Barcroft Images
It cements their position as the main opposition to Mr Renzi’s centre-Left coalition, despite limited campaign experience and the fact that their candidate only entered politics five years ago. And it provides a platform for a national challenge to Mr Renzi in elections due in 2018.
There was some solace for Mr Renzi in Italy’s business capital, Milan, where the PD-backed candidate for mayor, Giuseppe Sala, was leading in the exit polls with a predicted 51 per cent of the vote against his centre-Right rival, Stefano Parisi, with 48.5 per cent.
Matteo Renzi Matteo Renzi Credit: Marco Ravagli/Barcroft Images
But in the northern city of Turin the PD candidate, incumbent mayor Piero Fassino, also faced likely upset at the hands of another M5S female candidate, Chiara Appendino who had 52 per cent of the vote according to the exit polls, edging Mr Fassino with a predicted 48 per cent.
The turnout Sunday was well below that in the first round as many Romans assumed that Ms Raggi’s victory was a foregone conclusion. On average by 7pm only 36.5 per cent of the 8.6 million Italians eligible to vote in the city elections had cast ballots.
The turmoil in the PD forced Massimo D’Alema, a former prime minister, to deny speculation he might vote for Ms Raggi as a way to precipitate the demise of Mr Renzi.
“I voted as I always have done according to the recommendation of the party,” he said.
Courtesy : telegraph.co.uk