Rising star of protest movement set to become Rome’s first female mayor

Voters in Rome headed to the polls Sunday with all signs indicating that they will elect the Italian capital’s first female mayor. Virginia Raggi, a 37-year-old lawyer and local councillor, has leapt from anonymity to become one of the best-known faces in Italian politics in the space of only a few months. The telegenic brunette, whose victory would be a blow for prime minister Matteo Renzi, is the rising star of the populist Five Star movement (M5S), the anti-establishment party founded by comedian Beppe Grillo. She won 35% of the vote in the first round two weeks ago, well ahead of her nearest rival.

It’s a very special day for us, we finally have the chance to have somebody new who can change things. All the others have failed, we hope that they will succeed

One 72-year-old Raggi supporter

Ms Raggi’s rise is a particularly remarkable achievement for a party with a very limited organisational apparatus and for a woman who only entered politics five years ago. She says it was triggered by the birth of her son, Matteo, and her determination that he should not grow up in a city beset by the intertwined problems of failing public services and endemic corruption. All eyes are on Five Star which has only founded in 2009 but has emerged as the best-supported opposition to the centre-left Democratic Party-led coalition of Mr Renzi. His party also faces defeat in Italy’s financial capital Milan and a tough challenge in Turin and Bologna.

Today we need two things: honesty and courage

Virginia Raggi