Virginia Raggi will head into tomorrow’s Rome mayoral election as the favourite to win the run-off against the Democratic Party’s candidate Roberto Giachetti, with the result a potentially pivotal moment in the city’s bid for the 2024 Summer Olympic Games.
The Five Star Movement politician secured 35.2 per cent of the first round vote two weeks ago, with Giachetti achieving 24.9 per cent to advance to the second round, where the pair will be the only candidates.
Campaigning drew to a close on Friday, ahead of elections being held in 126 cities and towns across the country, with Raggi looking on course to become the first female mayor of Italy’s capital city.
Should she prove successful it would be a major boost to the Five Star Movement, an anti-establishment party which was started by comedian Beppe Grillo, while it could also seriously dent Rome’s Olympic hopes.
Raggi previously claimed she will not support Rome 2024, but appeared to soften her stance in a television debate earlier this week when she claimed the Games could “definitely be a chance of development and growth".
She claimed the city's problems should be solved first but said that a referendum would be held if citizens asked ''through a petition''.
The Rome Municipality's Capital Committee on Referendums ruled in April that a public vote on whether to press ahead with the bid could be held following its submission by the Italian Radicals Political Party, so long as there were 30,000 signatures calling for one.
However, the City Council backtracked on this decision after receiving a letter from the Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI) which urged them to reconsider, prompting supporters of a referendum to claim the decision had been “seriously illegitimate”.
A bid from Hamburg was dropped last year after a referendum defeat, while Boston's effort was abandoned earlier in 2015 due to a failure to gain political support, prior to a proposed public vote being held.
Every referendum held in recent years on an Olympic bid has failed, except for one in Oslo in 2013 on a 2022 Winter bid that was dropped the following year anyway amid plummeting public and political support.
Rome’s bid could be boosted should Giachetti defeat Raggi at the election, with the Democratic Party’s candidate describing the opportunity to host the Olympics as not one to be missed.
He also claimed that 177,000 jobs would be created by the Games.
Rome are bidding for the Olympics and Paralympics in eight years' time along with Budapest, Los Angeles and Paris.
The IOC is due to elect its chosen host at its Session in Lima in September 2017.