Rome mayor celebrates as bus referendum fails due to low turnout

Rome - A referendum on the de facto privatization of Rome's poorly-run bus and metro services failed due to low turnout on Sunday, giving another cause for celebration to the city's embattled mayor.

A third of eligible voters needed to take part in the non-binding referendum, which Mayor Virginia Raggi opposed, but only about 16 per cent showed up, according to near-final data released by Rome's city council.
The results demonstrate that "Romans want [public transport company ATAC] to stay public," Raggi wrote on Twitter, promising to step up turnaround work on the chronically loss-making and inefficient company.
ATAC has racked up debts of around 1.3 billion euros and provides an increasingly dangerous service due to lack of maintenance. More than 20 of its buses caught fire this year, and last month an escalator collapsed at a metro station, injuring more than 20 people.
The referendum's failure was a second victory in a testy weekend for Raggi: On Saturday, she was cleared of making false statements about a city hall appointment. Had she been found guilty, she would have been expected to resign.
Raggi was elected by a landslide in 2016, in a historic victory for the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, which has since gone on to win national elections and enter government this year in a coalition with the far-right League.
But under her watch, Rome's endemic problems with potholes, garbage, congestion and maladministration hardly improved. In late October, thousands of people took part in a "Rome says enough" protest outside Raggi's office.


Sunday, November 11th 2018

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