Virginia Raggi won Rome’s mayoral election in a landslide victory Sunday and will become the first woman to serve as mayor in the city’s long history.
The 37-year-old lawyer and former city council member, part of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, won her race with 67 percent of the vote. Her victory has dealt a critical blow to Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, whose coalition faces growing challenges.
As she celebrated her win, Raggi pledged to be “a mayor for all Romans” who “will restore legality and transparency to the city’s institutions after 20 years of poor governance,” according to BBC. She will inherit a city engulfed in debts that amount to twice its annual budget and Romans who are frustrated with public works.
Here are five things you should know about Raggi.
1. She campaigned on an anti-corruption platform.
In the past two years, Rome has been riled by numerous public corruption scandals dubbed as “Mafia Capitale.” The former mayor resigned following an investigation into his expenses and criticism that he was unfit to confront the pervasive corruption. Raggi, who campaigned on a platform that promised governmental integrity, will soon face a test. She will be judged on whether she can rein in corruption or whether her administration will be powerless to stop it.
2. She has advocated for an increased focus on municipal issues.
Voters were drawn to Raggi for her pledge to create a more “livable” Rome. While her slogan caught traction, the financial state of Rome and the nation at large could make her promise difficult to keep. Italy has a bloated government, an almost-bankrupt transportation system, and countless municipal projects that have are incomplete. Raggi now is faced with the grueling task of trying to counter Rome’s issues with parking, waste and infrastructure.
3. She plans on taking on the Vatican for allegedly unpaid taxes.
Raggi vowed that she would pursue claims worth €250 million and €400 million in allegedly unpaid taxes on the Vatican’s real estate and additional assets. She contended that the taxes went unpaid as a result of previous administrations’ unwillingness take on the church. “I think that on this point, we could have a frank discussion,” she told The Guardian. Some have predicted that her plan to take on the Vatican will face disapproval inside the institution.
4. She is opposed to Rome’s bid to host the Olympic Games in 2024.
She has insisted that the city should concentrate on meeting its basic municipal needs before hosting the international competition. This stance has put her at odds with those who believe Rome stands to financially benefit from hosting the Olympics.
5. She became involved in politics after the birth of her son.
Raggi’s political activity dates back to 2011, just after her son was born. She said in an interview that after his birth she “couldn’t sit back any longer and just watch” and became involved with a neighborhood group “in the spirit of mothers who want to change the world for their children.”