Cambridge Academic May Consider Challenging Rome Mayor Alemanno

Loretta Napoleoni, an economics lecturer at Cambridge University, said she would consider an offer by the insurgent 5 Star Movement to challenge Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno in his bid for reelection next year.

“If the movement asks me, I will take it into consideration,” Napoleoni said in a phone interview late yesterday. Napoleoni is currently advising the municipality of Parma in northern Italy, where 5 Star won its first mayoral seat in local elections in May, on how to reduce its debt.

The 5 Star Movement, founded by comedian-turned-politician Beppe Grillo in 2009, emerged as Italy’s third-biggest party in local election across the country last month and now ranks second in opinion polls nationally. Grillo has called on politicians to consider abandoning the euro and defaulting if necessary. Napoleoni last month praised him for putting Italy’s euro exit “on the political agenda.”

London resident Napoleoni, 56, would probably shake up the race to lead Italy’s biggest city, which for almost two decades has been led by one of the country’s two main parties. Alemanno is running for former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Liberty party. The Democratic Party will put forward Nicola Zingaretti, who is currently president of the Province of Rome.

“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 the candidate,” Napoleoni said. “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.”

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