Raggi, who grew up in the San Giovanni neighborhood of Rome, practiced law before becoming involved in politics. She took part in neighborhood boards and joined the Five Star Movement in 2011. She was elected to Rome’s City Council in 2013, and when Rome’s then-mayor, Ignazio Marino, stepped down in 2015 amid a financial scandal, Raggi won the closed primary. This paved the way for her landslide victory this past June with a ratio of 67:33 against her opponent Roberto Giachetti of the Democratic Party — the party of the current Italian prime minister, Matteo Renzi.
The election of a candidate who emerged from an anti-establishment movement exemplified Italians’ broad dissatisfaction with mainstream politics. Comedian Beppe Grillo’s populist Five Star Movement prioritizes transparency, sustainability, and direct democracy, primarily through digital means. Raggi, in fact, campaigned to usher in a new era of politics, vowing to move Rome beyond old impasses by restoring legality and cleaning up the city’s corruption-plagued institutions. She has ambitious plans to restructure many of the city’s subpar public services, from its woeful transportation system to its problematic waste services.
It is too early to tell if Raggi will be successful in a city that is notoriously resistant to change, but her enthusiasm appears to be resonating among Romans. Proclaiming herself a “mayor of the people, even those who did note vote [for me],” she took viewers on a video tour of the Campidoglio (the headquarters of the Italian government) during her first week as mayor to illustrate that the government should be open to all its citizens. At the end of July, she expanded on this promise by giving Italians a personal tour of it as well. One can only hope that her fresh outlook will bring much-needed change to the Eternal City.