Rome has become a sacrifice, more than an opportunity, for the politicians who must govern it. The Eternal City has fallen into such a degree of deterioration that it no longer even easily finds candidates running for mayor. The two large blocks, right and left, have ended up doing a ‘casting’ for find someone to run for office of the most discredited political position in the country. It has not been easy for them. Nobody knows how this city got here and nobody seems to know how to get it out of there.

In most capitals of the world, the office of mayor is a springboard for national politics. The English Boris Johnson or the French Jacques Chirac, for example, were mayors of London and Paris before becoming leaders of their countries. There are dozens of similar examples. In Rome, the opposite happens, the mayor’s office for years is a political grave.

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Javier Brandoli. Roma

Everything that Rome boasts has a peculiarity: it has been made hundreds or thousands of years ago. It’s funny, it has happened since Mussolini’s time, but when politicians talk about their plans for this beautiful city, especially conservatives, they talk about its past, about the Imperial Rome, as if their future were to go back 2,000 years.

It is difficult to explain Rome to those who do not live in Rome. The Rome of the historic center, the Colosseum, Bernini’s marbles and Caravaggio’s paintings, is that fascinating Rome that dazzles tourists. How not to do it? But surrounding this immense space of art and history there is a city in which millions of people live where hundreds of garbage bags go uncollected for weeks, the streets are full of plastic, the asphalt is perforated everywhere, vegetation is not cut that eats the sidewalks, there is no night lighting, wild boars and seagulls take over the neighborhoods, public transport is a lottery, municipal services They are inefficient and outdated offices, the river slopes a garbage dump where you can find even electrical appliances … That Rome elects mayor this fall and it has been difficult to find someone who will take on the task of managing it.

An ungovernable city

“It is true that, after the second term of Walter Veltroni (2008), Rome is no longer a springboard because it entails a decline. It is an unruly city, with a huge deficit and poor public services. Governing Rome is a problem ”, explains to El Confidencial Simone Canettieri, a journalist for ‘Il Foglio’.

Photo: Rome from the Tiber (Photo: Javier Brandoli)
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An example of this loss of prestige has been the ‘casting’ that the Democratic Party (left) and the conservative coalition, which includes Lega, Fratelli d’Italia and Forza Italia, have made to find a candidate. The left has finally opted, after winning the primaries, for a middle-profile name, the ‘gray’ former Finance Minister Roberto Gualtieri, and the right, for a businessman and controversial radio host, Enrico Michetti. In both cases, they have reaped several noes before finding someone willing to ‘sacrifice’.

The case of the PD is significant. “Our surveys say that Nicola Zingaretti [actual gobernador de la región de Lazio y ex secretario general del PD] he could have won the mayoral elections in the first round, without the need for a second round. But he did not want to, I think he felt disappointed and tired after leaving the general secretary, and he did not feel like the challenge. Furthermore, the 5-Star Movement threatened to bring down the regional government if it ran, because it is a very strong enemy for the current mayor, Virginia Raggi ”, explains a political source very close to Zingaretti to this newspaper.

On the right, the ‘casting’ has been almost with auditions. “One of those who sounded is the businessman Paolo Gentilini, owner of the Gentilini biscuits, who, when offered to be the conservative candidate, replied with a very Roman phrase: ‘Ma chi me lo fa fa’ [pero para qué molestarme]“, Canettieri account.

Photos: The leader of the Brothers of Italy, Giorgia Meloni and Matteo Salvini (Reuters)
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On May 8, the newspaper ‘Corriere della Sera’ published an article by the analyst Antonio Polito under the title ‘Why no one wants to be mayor’. In the subtitle, it says: “A while ago, the mayoralty of Rome, Milan or Naples was a ‘cursus honorum’ and could launch you into the national political career.” The other great national newspaper, ‘La Repubblica’, also headlined an article ‘Rome and the listless candidates’, and some columnist wondered the reason that no one wants to be mayor of the country’s capital. “The one who acts as mayor in Rome receives 4,800 euros a month, a third of what a deputy earns, and inherits a city without money because a law is never finished to endow the capital with the necessary resources. Rome is a city without power, ”explains Canettieri.

“To administer Rome, you have to put your hands in the mud, although now comes another historical moment that can change the city and that is a shower of millions. Managing these resources is very interesting “, they warn from the Zingaretti environment. What moment?” In 2025 it will be the next jubilee, and that means turning the city into the world capital of Christianity. ”

“The mayor inherits a city without money. Rome is a city without power”

“The last great change that Rome has undergone was for the jubilee of the year 2000. Some important public works were done to prepare for the arrival of hundreds of thousands of faithful,” explains Canettieri. In the end it will be the money that the activity of the Church brings that can save Rome? “Well, there are many nuances there. One of the great historical controversies of this city is that the Church does not pay the taxes of its very numerous properties. No mayor has dared to put his hand there ”.

Victim of his past

And it is that Rome is, of course, victim and graceful of her past. The splendor of its monuments has the B side of a disproportionate size, the result of a historical anomaly.

Rome was the last link in the unity of Italy after the fall of the Papal States on September 20, 1870. All that land of the Vatican, which was a state of its own, became a single entity of 1,285 square kilometers in front of, for example, the 181 in Milan or the 105 in Paris. Each of the 15 municipalities in Rome, the equivalent in Madrid of a District Board, is larger than most Italian cities. His management has become a disaster, with hardly any resources, with a citizenry that barely cares for the environment and lousy public services.

Photo: EFE.

The curious thing is the electoral map that has been generated. The city lurks ideological in search of someone who knows how to manage it. In 2008, the ultra-conservative Gianni Alemanno won, in 2013, the leftist Ignazio Marino, and in 2016, the populist Virginia Raggi. All have contributed to increase the defects of the capital without providing solutions. Rome is governed by a maxim that usually gives bad results: the urgent does not allow us to do the important.

“Municipalities I and II, those that correspond to the historic center, called the town of the ZTL [zona de tráfico restringido]They are the ones with the highest per capita income. They are neighborhoods of independent professionals and intellectuals. In both, the left has won for years. However, in neighborhoods like Tor Bella Monaca, the area of ​​the poor city, where more crimes occur and which are controlled by criminal gangs, the right wins, ”explains Canettieri.

Those two Roma must elect a single mayor Between next September and October, let him take this city out of the hole where they have put it between everyone, citizens and politicians. It is difficult to explain and understand everything, but, as the German writer Goethe, who lived a little over a year in Rome, said, “only in Rome can one prepare to understand Rome”.

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