Meloni to run for Rome mayor

Center-right in disarray after Salvini ditches Bertolaso

(ANSA) - Rome, March 15 - Giorgia Meloni of the small rightwing Brothers of Italy(FdI) party on Tuesday decided to run for mayor of Rome, even as ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi ruled out the prospect of the centre-right uniting behind her bid. The media magnate added that he was sticking with the candidate that the centre-right had agreed on - former civil protection chief Guido Bertolaso. Bertolaso's candidacy has been thrown into doubt after rightwing, anti-immigrant Northern League leader Matteo Salvini dropped his backing and said he wanted Meloni to be the runner in the capital. Bertolaso is currently at the centre of a furore after saying the visibly pregnant Meloni should focus on being a mother at this time in her life - a statement Berlusconi appeared to agree with in statements to RAI public broadcaster earlier in the day.
    "Being mayor means being in your office 14 hours a day," Berlusconi said. "I don't think this could be the right choice for Meloni... On February 12 we issued a joint statement thanking Bertolaso for agreeing to run, and then someone changed their mind. I think that, in politics as in life, you should respect your word. We'll continue with the candidates chosen".
    Also on Tuesday Rome mayoral candidate Alfio Marchini, who is running on a civic list supported by the junior government partner New Centre Right (NCD), said that if elected he would reopen part of Via dei Fori Imperiali to traffic by local residents. The proposal would involve the stretch of road running from Piazza Venezia to Largo Corrado Ricci. The road is currently open to buses, taxis and emergency vehicles only after former Democratic Party (PD) mayor Ignazio Marino made good on a promise to ban private traffic in 2013. Marchini, a former Rome city councillor, is running against current deputy House Speaker Roberto Giachetti for the centre-left PD, Stefano Fassina for the Italian Left (SI), and Virginia Raggi for the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S).
    City elections will be held in June.