Raggi, the candidate [for Mayor of Rome] of the Five Star Movement (M5S), is leading the polls ahead of local elections in Rome and other Italian cities on Sunday. Unlike other non-traditional movements that have prospered in Europe, such as Syriza in Greece, the M5S's protest is not so much against austerity as the corruption and cronyism of Italy's mainstream parties.

Nowhere has this been highlighted more vividly than Rome, where establishment politicians and officials are on trial alongside alleged mobsters, charged with conspiring to pocket millions of euros from rigged public contracts. All three of the final polls released before a ban took effect on 21 May put Raggi ahead by 3-6 percentage points in the mayoral race.

Run-offs between the two leading candidates in each town are slated for 19 June. Only then will it be known if the 37-year-old lawyer -- almost unknown to the public until a few months ago -- has won.

A victory for Raggi would be a stinging reverse for Italy's prime minister, Matteo Renzi, who leads the centre-left Democratic party, and a dramatic breakthrough for the internet-based M5S.

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