Anti-Establishment Revulsion Hits Italy As 5-Star Candidate Takes Lead In Rome Mayoral Election

Not only is support growing in the United States for candidates that are perceived to be 'outside of the establishment', and recently and very notably in Austria, Germany and France, but as of today, in countries such as Italy.

Millions of Italians went to the polls on Sunday to vote in local elections for new mayors and town councils in more than 1,300 cities, the results of which could shake up Italy's political landscape. The elections include Italy's biggest cities such as Rome and Milan, and come at a difficult time for Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, as the country faces weak economic growth, a banking sector on the verge of yet another major crisis, and an uptick in migration.

In the main battleground of Rome, the anti-establishment Euroskeptic 5-Star Movement candidate won the largest share of the votes in the first round of its mayoral election. Virginia Raggi, a 37-year old lawyer running as the upstart euroskeptic 5-Star Movement won 35.6% of the vote cast Sunday in Rome, while Roberto Giachetti, the candidate for Renzi's Democratic party received just 24.7%. The two candidates will face a runoff on June 19 the WSJ reports. Locals are seeking new leadership that can pull the Italian capital out of a state of turmoil, as it has endured corruption allegations, poor management and political upheaval. Rome has been under special administration since former Mayor Ignazio Marino, a member of Renzi's Democratic party, resigned last October over accusations of expense irregularities - the Democratic party has been weakened in Rome by a string of political scandals and by a major criminal investigation that uncovered ties between organized crime and City Hall Officials the WSJ adds.

If Raggi wins the second round, it would give the 5-Star Movement a major opportunity to prove its ability to govern. If it can manage to tame some of Rome's problems, that would also boost the movement's chances in the next national election. Polls already show that the 5-Star Movement is closing in on the Democratic Party.

Further signs of trouble for Renzi appeared in Naples and Turin. In Naples, the Democratic Party didn't make it to the runoffs, while in Turin the Democratic Party will have to face the 5-Star Movement in the second round as well.

Renzi has staked his government on a positive outcome of a constitutional referendum that has been called for October, in which there will be a vote on whether to approve a plan to simplify Italy's legislative process, reduce the senate's powers and ensure more stable governments - if the referendum fails, Renzi has promised to resign, which would pave the way for early elections next year.

"A negative outcome of the referendum would not only end Renzi's tenure but also throw Italy into uncharted waters" said Wolfango Piccoli, co-president at London's Teneo Intelligence.

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We continue to get confirmation that it is not just US voters who have seemingly had enough of the politics as usual. As in Germany and Austria, there is a growing passion for citizens in Italy to do away with business as usual, for better or worse. We'll be watching to see how this all plays out, and specifically if Renzi actually resigns should the referendum fail, as he said he would do.