Five Star movement ready to implode?

Is the Five Star Movement imploding?

Business News

The Five Star Movement in Italy looked to upset the political applecart when it first arrived on the scene. After an initial momentum, the party appears to have lost its way.

It was only three years ago the Five Star Movement (M5S) looked set for a stellar trajectory when it won 33% of the vote in the general election.

Now, it has no formal leader, has performed several U-turns on policy, broken campaign promises and looks like a jigsaw puzzle it is so divided. Political commentators are pawing through the rubble of a party which looked set to change Italian politics for good.

“They are really on the rocks,” commented Piergiorgio Corbetta, an emeritus professor at the University of Bologna who has written extensively about the rise and fall of the M5S.

M5S half as popular

Currently, the party is half as popular as it was in 2017. Polling figures show 17% compared to 33% in 2018.

This may be due to a lot of infighting which resulted in the expulsion or resignation of between a quarter and a third of its lawmakers. Former premier Giuseppe Conte could be the party’s next leader, but that infighting means his nomination cannot go forward.

While they hold the most seats in parliament, Corbetta, sees M5S as “totally irrelevant” in Draghi’s government. The party holds only four of 23 ministerial posts, and ideologically they appear to be drifting.

Where are M5S on the political spectrum – left or right?

When comedian Beppe Grillo launched the M5S in 2009 with Gianroberto Casaleggio, they rallied against the deep-rooted corruption in Italy’s political system.

They claimed neither left- nor right-wing affiliation. They also vowed never to enter into an alliance with other political parties.

That changed when they did not manage the majority required to govern alone in 2018. First, they created a euro-sceptic coalition with the nationalist, anti-immigration League led by Matteo Salvini. However, only a year later and they were in a pro-Europe coalition with PD.

“I can’t deny that it is a difficult and tense period,” M5S lawmaker Sergio Battelli told AFP. “The movement has evolved, it has changed, it has made some errors… but the M5S is here to stay.”

The M5S is now in office with both the League and the PD, as part of the ‘national unity’ government led by Draghi.  

Loss of online platform as Casaleggio’s son Davide disowned by party

One of the party’s most popular figures, Alessandro Di Battista, is considering setting up a new party with other rebels. They may have help in the form of co-founder Casaleggio’s son Davide.

Davide inherited from his father the online platform that formed the M5S’ organisational backbone. He refuses to hand it over.

MS5 disowned Davide. The party has now lost access to its official blog, party membership lists and online voting mechanisms. This is the reason Conte cannot be formally given the leadership.

Sergio Battelli is upset about this “mistimed and shameful” episode, adding: “We’re going to have to sort this out in court.”

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