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New Italian Women Mayors

Florence and other Italian regional centres elected women mayors

Newly elected women mayors in Italy (from left): Elena Carnevali (Bergamo), Sara Funaro (Florence), Ilaria Bugetti (Prato)

July 2024: Until now, Italy has had the reputation of being a country where women have made little impact on local politics. It is estimated that only between seven and nine per cent of the country's mayors are women. But perhaps this will change. In local elections which took place over two rounds in June 2024, women managed to win mayoral positions in important regional centres.


The election result in Florence has attracted the most attention. In the city where Michelangelo grew up, a woman was elected mayor for the first time. Sara Funaro from the centre-left Democratic Party won convincingly against her opponent Eike Schmidt from the right-wing political camp. Although Schmidt, who was director of the Uffizi Gallery from 2015 until the beginning of this year, is known far beyond the city, he was convincingly defeated by Sara Funaro.


Women were also successful in other important regional centres. For example in Prato (Tuscany), Perugia (Umbria) and Bergamo (Lombardy) Commentators wrote Italian maschilismo suffered a defeat. Others also spoke of a Meloni effect. In Italy, the Prime Minister (Giorgia Meloni) and the leader of the opposition (Ely Schlein) are both women.


Florence (Tuscany)

(Popl: 360,000)

Mayor: Sara Funaro; Elected June 2024; Centre-left

Sara Funaro was elected mayor of Florence with the backing of a coalition of centre-left parties including the Democratic Party (PD) and the 5-Star Movement (Movimento 5 Stelle). The new mayor, previously a local PD councillor, won with over 60 per cent of the vote. Her opponent, German-born Eike Schmidt, was the former director of Florence's Uffizi Gallery. He ran nominally as an independent but was backed by Italy’s right-wing coalition government.


Sara Funaro dedicated her victory to her grandfather Piero Bargellini, who, as mayor, guided Florence through the devastation of the 1966 floods.Born in Florence in 1976, Sara Funaro has a degree in psychology from the University of Florence. She was the city councillor responsible for education, health, equal opportunities and integration under the city’s previous mayor Dario Nardella. She also served as vice president of ASP Montedomini Social Services Association and was a board member of Fondazione Meyer, a charity supporting the city’s children’s hospital. Her campaign promises include equal opportunities for citizens, affordable housing, completion of the tramlines, urban greening and a safer city.


Prato (Tuscany)

(Popl: 186,000)

Mayor: Ilaria Bugetti; Elected June 2024; Centre-left

Ilaria Bugetti from the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) was elected as the new mayor of Prato. She is the first woman mayor of Prato. The politician won the June mayoral election with the support of a centre-left coalition, which included the Democratic Party and the 5-Star Movement, against a right-wing candidate. Her opponent was supported by Italy’s governing party the ‘Brothers of Italy’ (FdI). The newly elected mayor benefited from the strength of the local PD party and the virtual electoral collapse of the FdI, which only one month earlier had performed strongly in the European elections.


Ilaria Bugetti was born in Prato and has been a member of the Tuscan regional parliament since 2015. She was previously mayor of the municipality of Cantagallo in the province of Prato for ten years.


Perugia (Umbria)

(Popl: 163,000)

Mayor: Vittoria Ferdinandi; Elected June 2024; Centre-left

Vittoria Ferdinandi was elected mayor of Perugia backed by a coalition of centre-left parties. She is the first woman to hold this position in the Umbrian capital. Winning more than 52 per cent of votes cast, Ferdinandi defeated Margherita Scoccia from the centre-right.Vittoria Ferdinandi ran for mayor in the city she was born in. She was supported by the ‘Alliance for Victory’ which brought together left and center-left parties. Ferdinandi studied as a clinical psychologist and graduated in Philosophy and Technical and Psychological Sciences. In recent years, she has been involved in caring for the most vulnerable, with an inclusion project that restores the right to work for people suffering from mental disorders.In 2021 she was appointed Knight of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic.


Bergamo (Lombardy)

(Popl: 116,000)

Mayor: Elena Carnevali; Elected June 2024; Centre-left

Centre-left Elena Carnevali is the first female mayor of Bergamo. During her election campaign, she was supported by the outgoing mayor, Giorgio Gori, who a month earlier had been elected to the European Parliament. The new mayor dedicated her victory to Roberto Bruni, who, as mayor from 2004 to 2009, pledged to turn Bergamo into one of Italy’s most sustainable cities. At her victory party, Elena Carnevali repeated her promise that the citizens of Bergamo would be involved in all major decisions. Even her defeated opponent acknowledged that Carnevali would work selflessly for the city.


Lecce (Apulia)

(Popl: 90,000)

Mayor: Adriana Poli Bortone; Elected June 2024; right-wing

Adriana Poli Bortone, who narrowly defeated Lecce’s incumbent mayor, is no stranger to the city. She was Lecce’s mayor from 1998 to 2007 and later represented her city and region in the European Parliament and the Italian Senate. She was also a minister in Silvio Berlusconi’s first government. At the age of 80, Adriana Poli Bortone will now start her third term as mayor. She is a member of Italy’s far-right governing party, the Brothers of Italy (FdI)


Avellino (Campania)

(Popl: 55,000)

Mayor: Laura Nargi; Elected June 2024; Centre-right

Laura Nargi is the new mayor of Avellino. She, with the support of three civic lists, defeated her opponent from a centre-left coalition. From 2020 to 2024, Laura Nargi served as deputy mayor to former mayor Gianluca Festa who is currently being investigated as part of the ‘Dolce Vita’ affair. Nargi has also been questioned.


Rovigo (Veneto)

(Popl: 51,000)

Mayor: Valeria Cittadin; Elected June 2024; Rightist

Valeria Cittadin, a former trade unionist and school principal, is the new mayor of Rovigo. She was endorsed by a rightist coalition which included the Fratelli d'Italia, Lega and Forza Italia parties. Cittadin defeated the incumbent centre-left mayor. During the election campaign, she accused the incumbent mayor of neglecting ordinary people and small businesses, a message which resonated among voters.


Campobasso (Campobasso)

(Popl: 50,000)

Mayor: Marialuisa Forte; Elected June 2024; Centre-left

Marialuisa Forte is the first female mayor of Campobasso, the capital of Molise. She defeated her opponent from the centre-right by a mere 400 votes. She has dedicated her professional life to education, first as a teacher and then as a school principal. During the campaign, Marialuisa Forte was supported by the centre-left Democratic Party (PD), the 5 Star Movement and the Green-Left Alliance. PD leader Elly Schlein travelled to Campobasso to support Forte’s campaign. She will now have to govern with a city council, where the centre-right has a majority. But she said that she was willing to work with anyone, including the centre-right if it benefits the people of Campobasso.


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