The Italian Five Stars Movement, probably the first political party in the world to be born online, was in theory governed by a MPs Assembly and by its certified rank-and-file e-members, voting in frequent virtual plebiscites. In practice, it was ruled by its founders, Beppe Grillo and Gianroberto Casaleggio. Whoever dared criticizing one of them was expelled by a virtual plebiscite after an indictment by the MPs assembly.
However, after a string of poor electoral results and unconvincingly motivated expulsions, Mr Grillo was the object of the first ever internal mutiny of the Movement, after which he made known that “he is a little bit tired” and appointed a panel of five prominent MPs to lead the Movement. The appointment was ratified by the usual online vote, but it is not contemplated by the Movement statutes, and some MPs claim that it is even incompatible with the core values of the Movement.
It remains now to be seen whether or not the panel will be able to take control of the restive Movement and to improve its political stand which currently appears declining.
The troubles of the Movement will benefit Matteo Salvini, the leader of the Northern League and of the hardline opposition to Mr Renzi’s Government. Mr Salvini, an ally of the French National Front, wants Italy out of the Eurozone. However, another indirect beneficiary could be Mr Renzi himself, since the rightist stances of Mr Salvini could frighten the Italian voters who are traditionally conservative.