Cambridge lecturer as candidate in Rome’s next mayoral election?

Sofia Christensen, News Reporter 27 June 2012

Loretta Napoleoni, a visiting lecturer at Cambridge Judge Business School, claims she may consider an offer by Italy’s 5 Star Movement to challenge current Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno in next year’s election.

Napoleoni, a leading economist and associate lecturer at Cambridge University Judge Business School, has claimed she would consider an offer by the fast-growing 5 Star Movement to run for Mayor of Rome in the 2013 election.

In a phone interview with Bloomberg News last week, Napoleoni claimed “If the movement asks me, I will take it into consideration”.

She is currently working as a consultant for Parma’s newly elected mayor Federico Pizzarotti, where the 5 Star won its first mayoral seat in May local elections.

The 5 Star Movement was launched in 2009 by ex-comedian-now-politician Beppe Grillo. Although it refuses the official political party title, Grillo’s movement emerged as the country’s third-largest party in last month’s local elections and now ranks second in national opinion polls.

Euroscepticism and populism are central to the 5 Star Movement, as Grillo has called on Italian politicians to consider abandoning the euro and defaulting on the massive public debt. Napoleoni last month praised him for putting the euro exit “on the political agenda” and is currently advising Parma’s city council on debt reduction.

“As I am helping the movement in Parma, I would be happy to do the same in Rome, but any decision is completely up to them and this doesn’t mean that I will be candidate,” Napoleoni told Bloomberg.

The 56-year old London resident would bring an interesting twist to Rome’s mayoral race. For almost two decades, the capital has been run by one of Italy’s two main parties. Alemanno represents former premier Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Liberty Party, whilst the Democratic Party will put forward the current Province of Rome president Nicola Zingaretti.

So far, Napoleoni’s candidature is nothing more than a 5-Star suggestion. “I have not postulated for mayor of Rome as I had not postulated for the Lazio region, I only said that if they ask me I will think about it,” she tweeted on Thursday.

However, Napoleoni also told Bloomberg: “If they need me, I will do that as I see that as a possible way of civic commitment, although I know that would also be a full time job and would change the way I live.”

The 5-Star movement is becoming increasingly popular amongst voters who associate official political parties with greed, corruption and unpopular austerity measures.

Sofia Christensen, News Reporter