It was easy to predict that sooner or later the ambitious promises made before the elections by anti-establishment mayor Virginia Raggi would clash with the conservatism of the very people who voted for her. I said it a year ago in my book, and it didn’t take long for me to have the bittersweet satisfaction of being able to say “I told you so”.
A prime example of this is the case of the new bus lane in via di Portonaccio. As promised during the elections, the mayor recently created a bus lane on this busy road, in keeping with the approach in cities throughout the world to fighting congestion, which involves promoting public transport at the expenses of private vehicles. Romans however completely ignored the new bus lane – even though it had been publicly announced and signs placed all over the road – and are now forming committees to contest the fines they have received. As a result, the City Council is of course considering annulling the fines and relaxing the rules of the bus lane.
Economists like to say that colpire il portafoglio, hitting people in the wallet, is the only way to drive change, and this is particularly true here in Rome. But with the mayor’s popularity falling whenever innovative policies are introduced, it shouldn’t take her too long to revert to the Roman status quo.
P.S. I’m still a big fan of the mayor – why shouldn’t I, given that she has literally cleaned up the street where I live and finally enforced its pedestrianization. She is guilty perhaps of being rather naive and a tad too ambitious, introducing changes that require a degree of adaptation and modernity that is often lacking in the local population.