Italy’s 5-star leaderless movement could cause trouble for Draghi

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi arrives for the NATO summit at Alliance headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, June 14, 2021. Francisco Seco / Pool via REUTERS

ROME, June 30 (Reuters) – The 5 Star Movement co-leading in Italy found itself without a leader on Wednesday after an argument between its founder, comedian Beppe Grillo, and former Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte who had agreed to take over charge the party in difficulty.

5-Star is the largest group in parliament thanks to a triumph in the 2018 election, and its struggles could impact the stability of Mario Draghi’s government of national unity.

Many 5-star politicians and supporters have been unhappy with some of Draghi’s policies and if the party splits, as now seems likely, a significant number of its lawmakers could go into opposition.

On Wednesday, Alessandro Di Battista, who recently left the 5-star but remains very popular among his voters, said he is expected to hold an online vote of his members on whether to leave the coalition “after these tragic four months” of Draghi’s government.

Draghi doesn’t need the 5-star votes for a parliamentary majority, but without them he would be entirely dependent on those in the right-wing League, with its tough anti-immigrant and sometimes anti-EU positions.

Conte, who previously had no party affiliation, accepted Grillo’s request to take the reins of 5-Star, originally an anti-establishment protest party, after Conte’s coalition government collapsed. in January.

After spending months resolving internal disputes, Conte was finally ready to present his plans for a party reshaped along the dominant center-left lines, only for Grillo to block everything this week, angrily protesting his downsizing. difference.

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“Conte (…) has neither political vision nor managerial skills. He has no experience of organizations and no capacity for innovation,” Grillo, founder of 5-Star in 2009, wrote in a blog on Tuesday. Read more

The 72-year-old former comedian said Conte had crafted an archaic “17th century statute” for the movement he founded on egalitarian principles based on direct democracy using the internet.

However, Grillo’s post drew a lot of negative comments from 5-star supporters who accused him of trying to sink the movement he founded.

Conte, whose polls show him to be Italy’s second most popular politician after Draghi, said Wednesday that Grillo’s “autocratic stance” was a “mortification for the entire 5-star community”.

With a reconciliation between the two seeming impossible, senior 5-star politicians began to take sides, mostly against Grillo.

Vito Crimi, a party veteran and former interim leader, was among several senior officials who said they were considering leaving the party.

Additional reporting by Angelo Amante; Editing by Giles Elgood

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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