Italy’s Five Stars Movement admits e-democracy limits

The Italian Five Stars Movement hates whatever is remotely reminiscent of a party apparatus. There are not local branches, just meetings organized via the Meetup social network. There are not national bodies. The Movement candidates for general elections are chosen via Web polls, which will also decide on the issues submitted to the community by the assembly of the Movement MPs.

This liquid system, however, showed its shortcomings when the Movement had to confront the expert party politicians. Some of the MPs chosen by the Net proved not up to the task, revealing themselves as conspiracy theorists or untrained individuals unable to properly address the voters or the Chambers. Moreover, the semi-official leadership of the founders Beppe Grillo and Gianroberto Casaleggio appeared too invasive and dictatorial without a party apparatus balancing it.

In the end, Mr Grillo accepted to keep a lower profile and appointed a national panel made of the most prominent MPs. More recently, he announced that the process to select candidates will be reformed in order to give more weight to CVs, skills and professional experience.

The new strategy is paying dividend, with the Movement producing more solid MPs and local candidates, and the polls predicting a duel between the Movement and Prime Minister Renzi’s Democratic Party in the next general election.


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