As Rome’s mayor seeks new term, Romans decry decay

Emperor Augustus may have boasted of having transformed Rome from a humble brick settlement into a gleaming capital of marble, but many Romans today accuse the current mayor of leaving it a city of potholes.

As campaigning gets underway for next spring’s municipal elections in the Italian capital, Mayor Virginia Raggi faces an uphill battle to convince voters to hand her a second term.

Raggi’s government says its priorities include transparency and clamping down on corruption.

But many Romans gripe instead about more fundamental problems — piling rubbish, unreliable public transport and holes that are the demise of many a high heel or scooter tyre.

Most Romans consider their quality of life today to be worse than five years ago, a survey in August of 2,000 residents by the Piepoli Institute found.

Only one neighbourhood out of the sprawling city’s 15 boroughs cited improvement.

“There exist two schools of thought about Virginia Raggi. Those who think that she has done rather well as mayor of Rome. And those who live in Rome,” quipped La Repubblica political journalist Stefano Cappellini.

Political experts say that 42-year-old Raggi has struggled to communicate a vision for the city of three million inhabitants, beloved by tourists but viewed as provincial on the international stage.

“The citizens haven’t understood what Raggi’s plan is,” pollster Antonio Noto told AFP.

“She hasn’t managed to bring enthusiasm to her city.” (AFP | Alexandria Sage)