>> Just a year ago, Virginia Raggi was heralded as the poster child of Italy's Five Star Movement. The 38 year old lawyer sweeping to power in a landslide victory in June to become Rome's first female Mayor. Promising to clean up a city plagued by corruption and economic decline.
Her election rising hopes of a future triumph for her party at a national level. For seven months on and Raggi's time in charge has been plagued by scandals. And now she faces the possibility of a trial for abuse of office and false testimony, a PR disaster for the political party that holds honesty and legality at the core of its values.
For now Five Star Movement, which is Italy's second most popular party behind the ruling Democratic Party, is standing by Raggi, saying she's the victim of a witch hunt. Raggi is due to be interrogated by magistrates next week on her latest troubles relating to the nomination of the director of the city's tourism department, who was later removed from the position.
She says she has nothing to hide, quipping, next I guess they'll be claiming I've killed someone. But despite the poor start, with her administration beset by resignations and infighting, Five Star is holding strong in the opinion polls which suggests that the party still has a chance to defeat the current government at the next election.
Which could now be held early with growing speculation that the nation will be headed to the booths in June nine months ahead of time.