Five Star victory in final Ostian elections

Giuliana Di Pillo. Photo from Twitter

OSTIA - Giuliana Di Pillo, the candidate for anti-establishment party 5 Star Movement (5SM), has been elected mayor of the seaside port of Ostia.

 Di Pillo, a 55 year-old educator, had been engaged in a run-off election with 46 year-old teacher Monica Picca, the candidate for the centre-right parties, backed by former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, in Italy. Di Pillo scored 59.6 percent of the vote, with Picca coming in second with 40.4 percent. The two came head to head after winning the first round of elections earlier this month, as Ostia cast its support to parties lying far off-centre. 

 The elections have not taken place quietly. Army personnel was required to escort the votes to be counted yesterday, as outbreaks of violence have swept through the coastal region. An alleged supporter of the fascist CasaPound party, Roberto Spada, headbutted a journalist in the face earlier this month, and the door to the Democratic Party’s office in Ostia was set alight. The CasaPound party secured an unexpectedly high 9 percent in the polls earlier this month, increasing fears of a rise of fascist support in the region.

 Di Pillo admitted that she was “a little” afraid of the turnout, but that her work before the second round “was to make it understood that politics has changed.” Mayor Virginia Raggi has seen the success of her candidate in a similar light: “the Romans are with us for change,” she announced on Twitter. 

 And yet, only a third of the Ostian population turned out to vote, with voter participation falling by 2.5 percent from the round earlier in the month. Political interest has dropped a great 20 percent since elections in 2013. Only two years later, the council of Ostia was disbanded over fears of Mafia connections. This month, attacks and protests have taken place in the streets of the seaside Roman suburb as journalists marched in support of their wounded brethren. Local residents dismissed the protests as simply attention-grabbing, claiming that the real problems of Ostia could not be altered with short-lived media attention. If change is present, it is being hidden very well.