Five Star Movement
|Deputy President||Enrico Grillo|
|Secretary||Enrico Maria Nadasi|
|Founded||4 October 2009|
|Headquarters||Via Roccatagliata Ceccardi 1/14, Genoa|
|European Parliament group||Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy|
|Colours||Yellow, Red and White|
|Slogan||"One is worth one"|
|Chamber of Deputies||
91 / 630
35 / 315
17 / 73
0 / 20
The Five Star Movement (Italian: Movimento 5 Stelle [moviˈmento ˈtʃiŋkwe ˈstelle], M5S) is a political party in Italy started by Beppe Grillo, a popular comedian and blogger, and Gianroberto Casaleggio, a web strategist, on 4 October 2009. After Casaleggio's death in April 2016, the party has been led by Grillo and a Directorate composed of five leading MPs, until October 2016 when, after some troubles and scandals, Grillo announced the end of the Directorate and proclamed himself "Political Head" of the movement.
The M5S is considered populist, anti-establishment, environmentalist, anti-globalist and Eurosceptic. Grillo himself provocatively once referred to it as "populist". Its members stress that the M5S is not a party but a "movement" and it may not be included in the traditional left-right paradigm. The "five stars" are a reference to five key issues for the party: public water, sustainable transport, sustainable development, right to Internet access, and environmentalism. The party also advocates E-democracy, direct democracy, the principle of "zero-cost politics", degrowth, and nonviolence. In foreign policy, the M5S have condemned military interventions of the West in the Greater Middle East (Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya) as well as any notion of American intervention in Syria.
At the 2013 general election the M5S won the second most popular votes for the Chamber of Deputies, but obtained just 109 deputies out of 630 due to an electoral system which favoured parties running in coalition. In the European Parliament the M5S is part of the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD) group, along with the UK Independence Party. In 2016 Virginia Raggi of the M5S became elected as first female Mayor of Rome.
On 16 July 2005 Beppe Grillo offered supporters of the proposals submitted to his blog to adopt social networks, such as Meetup, to communicate and coordinate local meetings. Coordination of activists through meetups had already been adopted in 2003 by Howard Dean during the campaign for the primaries of the Democratic Party of the United States. This is how the first 40 "Friends of Beppe Grillo" meetups started, with the initial aim, according to the same Grillo, to "have fun, get together and share ideas and proposals for a better world, starting from one's own city. And discuss and develop, if you believe, my posts". Within the meetup one creates thematic working groups on topics including "technology and innovation", "press-communication", "ethical consumerism", "currency study", "no incinerators". It is from these experiences that Grillo was asked to stand for the primaries for the selection of the Prime Ministerial candidate of the centre-left coalition The Union, that were scheduled for October 2005.
On three occasions -17 December in Turin, 26 March in Piacenza and 16 to 18 June in Sorrento- the representatives of the "Friends of Beppe Grillo" meetup held national meetings in the presence of Grillo. In these circumstances, proposals mostly regarding environmental issues were discussed, such as the replacement of polluting incinerators with systems applying mechanical-biological waste treatment.
During the fourth national meeting held in Genoa on 3 February 2007, Beppe Grillo announced his desire to provide local Meetup activists an autonomous space within the shows of his tour.
On 14 July 2007, the representatives of some civic lists participating in local elections the previous spring met in Parma to establish a national coordination between "associations, movements, organizations and civic lists practicing, promoting and experimenting direct and participatory democracy", and share a document of intent that, amongst its main objectives, included the establishment of proposal and repeal referendums, the direct election of the Ombudsman, the institution of participatory budgeting, a "bound" mandate for public administrators and open primaries.
On 14 June 2007 Beppe Grillo launched the idea of Vaffanculo Day (Fuck-off Day), or simply V-Day, a day of public mobilisation for the collection of signatures required to submit a law of popular initiative that seeks to introduce preferences in the current electoral law and to prevent the nomination as Parliamentary candidates of recipients of criminal convictions or of those who have already completed two terms in office. The meeting was held in Bologna.
The choice of the name of the event, V-Day, had a fourfold reference: the first to the Normandy landings of the Allies in Normandy during World War II, to symbolise how Italian citizens would "invade" bad policy; the second to the motion picture "V for Vendetta" (whose symbol is also referred to in the logo of the movement) which the movement refers to often with its principles of political renewal; the third to the interjection "Fuck you" given to bad policy. The fourth is a reference to the number five as a Roman numeral.
V-Day, which continued the "Clean Parliament" initiative promoted by Beppe Grillo since 2006, took place in many Italian cities the following 8 September, the date chosen to evoke the state of confusion besetting the state, as at the 8 September 1943 Badoglio Proclamation. On that day 336,000 signatures were collected, far exceeding the 50,000 required for the filing of a law of popular initiative. For the occasion, Michele Serra coined the term "grillismo"
In the wake of the success, exceeding the expectations of the organisers, V2-Day was organised for 25 April 2008, a second day of action aimed at collecting signatures for three referendums. On 29 and 30 September 2007 in Lucca, several members of the meetups and local civic lists, in the initial wake of the discussions started on the net and in the wake of the previous meeting of Perugia, define the policies for the establishment of civic lists. On 10 October 2007 Grillo gives guidance on how to create the civic lists.
Five Star civic lists
On 3 December 2008, Grillo presented the symbol of the Five Star Civic Lists for the local elections of 2009. Logo in the "V" of "citizenship" is a reference to V-Day In Bologna, on 17 February 2009, a gathering of civic lists discussed the future of the movement and the coming elections; in particular, Sonia Alfano consulted with the activist base of the movement about her possible candidacy for the European Parliament as an independent candidate with the Italy of Values list.
On 8 March 2009, the first national meeting of the Five Star Civic Lists was held in Florence. Here Beppe Grillo had the Charter of Florence, bone joint 12-point program of the various local civic lists in the afternoon, about twenty local groups present their ideas and experiences. In April Grillo announced a letter of Nobel Prize winner in economics Joseph Stiglitz in which he declares to look carefully at the experience of local civic lists promoted through the blog
On 29 March 2009, Grillo announced that in the upcoming European elections he would support Luigi de Magistris and Sonia Alfano, figures close to the movement, as independent candidates in the lists of Italy of Values, together with the journalist Carlo Vulpio, also close to the movement On 11 June, De Magistris and Alfano, candidates in all five constituencies, were elected to the European Parliament, resulting in the first and second preferences (of 419 000 and 143 000). In the same election, as stated by Beppe Grillo, 23 councilors were elected from the Five Star Civic Lists, especially in the municipalities of Emilia-Romagna in central Italy
2010–2012 regional and local elections
During the 2010 regional elections the M5S obtained notable results in the five regions where it ran a candidate for President: Giovanni Favia gained 7.0% of the vote in Emilia-Romagna (6.0% for the list, 2 regional councillors elected), Davide Bono 4.1% in Piedmont (3.7%, 2 councillors), David Borrelli 3.2% in Veneto (2.6%, no councillors), Vito Crimi 3.0% in Lombardy (2.3%, no councillors) and Roberto Fico 1.3% in Campania (1.3%, no councillors).
At the local elections on 15 and 16 May 2011, the Movement occurs in 75 of the 1,177 municipalities in the vote, including 18 of the 23 provincial capitals called to vote. In the first round the Movement enters its representatives in 28 municipalities (for a total of 34 elected councilors) and often resulting in some important decisive ballots The best results are in the cities and towns of the center-north, especially in Emilia-Romagna (where the list gets between 9 and 12% in Bologna, Rimini and Ravenna) and Piedmont, while in the south rarely exceeds 2% of the vote.
Regional elections in Molise on 16 and 17 October 2011 had its own candidate for the presidency and its own list, the list received 2.27% of the votes and the presidential candidate the 5.60% of the vote, but no seats
At the 2012 local elections the M5S did well in several cities of the North, notably in Genoa (14.1%), Verona (9.5%), Parma (19.9%), Monza (10.2%), and Piacenza (10.0%). In the small Venetian town of Sarego, the M5S's candidate was elected mayor with 35.2% of the vote (there is no run-off in towns with less than 15,000 inhabitants). In the run-offs the party won the mayorships of Parma (60.2%), Mira (52.5%), and Comacchio (69.2%).
After the election, the party consistently scored around 15-20% nationally in opinion polls, frequently ahead of The People of Freedom and second just to the Democratic Party (see 2013 general election).
At the Sicilian regional elections of 2012 the M5S fielded Giancarlo Cancelleri as candidate. The campaign kicked off with Grillo's arrival in Messina on 10 October swimming from the mainland. In the election Cancelleri came third with 18.2% of the vote, while the M5S was the most voted party with 14.9%, obtaining 15 seats out of 90 in the Regional Assembly, in a very fragmented political landscape. The election was however characterized by a low participation as only 47.4% of eligible voters effectively turned out to vote.
2013 general election
On 29 October 2012, Grillo announced the guidelines for standing as party candidates in the 2013 general election. For the first time in Italy, the candidates were chosen by party members through an online primary between 3 and 6 December.
On 12 December 2012, Grillo expelled two leading members from the party: Giovanni Favia, regional councillor of Emilia-Romagna, and Federica Salsi, municipal councillor in Bologna, due to infringing the rules of the political party. The former had talked about the lack of democracy within the party, while the latter had taken part in a political talk show on Italian television, something that was discouraged and later forbidden by Grillo.
On 22 February 2013, a large crowd of 800,000 people attended the final rally of Beppe Grillo before the 2013 general election, in Piazza San Giovanni in Rome. On 24 and 25 February 2013, M5S contested all Italian constituencies: Beppe Grillo was listed as head of the coalition, although he was not an electoral candidate.
The vote for M5S in the Chamber of Deputies reached 25.55% of the vote in Italy and 9.67% for overseas voters, for a total of 8,784,499 votes, making it the second most voted list after the Democratic Party (which acquired 25.42% of the votes in Italy and 29.9% abroad, or 8,932,615 votes), obtaining 108 deputies. The M5S vote for the Senate was 23.79% in Italy and 10% abroad, for a total of 7,375,412 votes, second only to the PD (which garnered 8,674,893 votes), obtaining 54 Senators. This was a successful election for M5S as the party gained a higher share of the vote than was expected by any of the opinion polls. The M5S won 25.6% of the vote for the Chamber of Deputies, more than any other single party. However, both the Italy Common Good centre-left coalition, centred on the Democratic Party, and the centre-right alliance, centred on The People of Freedom, obtained more votes as coalitions. The M5S was the largest party in the Abruzzo, Marche, Liguria, Sicily and Sardinia. The party obtained good results also in the regional elections in Lombardy, Lazio and Molise, where candidates obtained the third-largest share of votes, and the party won 9, 7 and 2 councillors, respectively.
2014 European election
In the run-up to the 8th parliamentary term, M5S was lacking a European affiliation and sought a European parliament group. Initial negotiations were held with Europe of Freedom and Democracy (EFD) co-president Nigel Farage and The Greens–European Free Alliance (Greens/EFA). However, on 4 June 2014, The Greens/EFA rejected Grillo's attempts to obtain group membership. On 11 June 2014, the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) group rejected M5S as a potential affiliate in a statement citing M5S's perceived Euroscepticism and populism. In an online referendum offered to M5S members on 12 June 2014, the choice of European parliament affiliation offered were Europe of Freedom and Democracy (EFD), the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR), or to become Non-Inscrits. Party activists voted by 78.1% to join the EFD group. On 18 June 2014, it was announced that the EFD group had enough MEPs to continue into the 8th European Parliament term. On 24 June 2014, M5S MEP David Borrelli was chosen as the group's new co-president and the EFD group name was amended to Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD) for the upcoming parliament. The EFDD group lost its official group status on 16 October 2014 after the defection of Latvian MEP Iveta Grigule, until Polish MEP Robert Iwaszkiewicz joined the group four days later.
On 17 November 2015, after an online poll in which 40,995 people took part, the movement changed its logo to replace the URL of co-founder Beppe Grillo (beppegrillo.it) with the officlal movement URL. The other option was to remove Grillo's URL entirely, replacing it with nothing. The grounds of the removal of Grillo's name was "the 5 Star Movement is mature enough and is preparing to govern Italy, so I believe it's correct not to associate it to a name anymore".
In the Five Star Movement converge themes derived from ecological and anti-particracy promoting the direct participation of citizens in the management of public affairs through forms of digital democracy. The movement wants to be a "democratic encounter outside of party and associative ties and without the mediation of directive or representational organisms, recognising to all users of the Internet the role of government and direction that is normally attributed to a few". From the economic point of view, it embraces the theories of degrowth, supporting the creation of "green jobs" and the rejection of polluting and expensive "great works", including incinerators and high-speed rail, aiming to an overall better quality of life and greater social justice. The Five Star Movement proposes the adoption of large-scale energy projects, elimination of waste, sustainable mobility, protection of territory from overbuilding, teleworking. The movement's political discourse often refers to the Internet as a solution to many social, economic, and environmental problems. This approach bears similarities with North-American cyber-utopianism and the Californian Ideology.
The movement bases its principles on direct democracy as an evolution of representative democracy. The idea is that citizens will no longer delegate their power to parties, considered old and corrupted intermediates between the State and themselves, that serve the interests of lobby groups and financial powers. They will succeed only by creating a collective intelligence made possible by the internet.
The Five Star Movement, in order to go in this direction, chose its Italian and European parliamentary candidates through online voting by registered members of Beppe Grillo's Blog. Through an application called "Operating System" reachable on the web, the registered users of M5S discuss, approve or reject legislative proposals (submitted then in the Parliament by the M5S group). For example, the M5S electoral law was shaped through a series of online voting, like the name of the M5S candidate for President of the Republic. The choice to support the abolition of a law against immigrants was taken online by members of the M5S even if the final decision was against the opinion of Grillo and Casaleggio. The partnership with the UK Independence Party was also decided by online voting, although the given options for the choice of European Parliament group for M5S were limited to: Europe of Freedom and Democracy (EFD), European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) and "Stay independent" (Non-Inscrits). The option of joining the Greens/EFA group was discussed, but this option was not available at the time of the voting, due to that group's prior rejection of the M5S.
Politics is not a career
One of the most important rules of M5S is that politics is a temporary service: no one who has already been elected twice at any level (local or national) can be a candidate again and has to go back to his or her original job. Another feature of the movement is the so-called "zero-cost politics", according to which politics must not become a career and way to make money. Belonging to the Movement requires the self-reduction of salaries of the citizens elected. The movement also rejects campaign contributions. In the regional elections in Sicily in 2012, the Sicilian wing of the M5S also decided to allocate the money saved by the reduction of the salaries of their elected in a fund for micro-credit to help small and medium enterprises. In the general elections of 2013 the Five Star Movement claimed to have rejected over €42 million of public electoral refunds, supporting its expenses for the campaign with crowdfunding through the blog.
No criminal records
In order to be Five Star Movement candidates, citizens must be without any criminal records. The party also supports initiatives to ban politicians with criminal records from being elected. Among the greater political battles of M5S is the ethical commitment to a greater simplicity and transparency to counter the practice of holding two or more positions, which show the intricate conflicts of interest between any organization, subsequently strengthened by public register to avoid centralizations that are nepotistic and clientelistic.
The leader of the movement, Grillo, on 15 July 2012 publicly expressed his support for same-sex marriage while the subject was discussed in the National Assembly. In offering his support to gay marriage, Grillo broke his silence on the subject, which had been speculated by some observers to be opposition.
On 28 October 2014, an online referendum took place among the activists of the Five Star Movement on the recognition of same-sex civil partnerships: 21,360 voted yes and 3,908 voted no. In February 2016, the M5S decided not to officially back the proposal of recognition of stepchild adoption for same sex civil partnerships, refusing to take an official stand and gave its parliamentarians freedom of vote on the matter.
Grillo's campaign has an unwillingness to form alliances by the leader's own refusal to be associated or characterized as any of the older political families including the Center-left and Centre-Right. As the administration itself is made up of both center-left and center-right parties, the 5 Star Movement has difficulties to come to agreements with any of the other administrations. Despite the different views within the party, the issues which the movement agrees upon keep the party intact through advocating the main 5 principles of the 5 Star Movement.
During the 2010 Italian elections, some parties highlighted a contradiction between the voluntary collective action in the struggles of civil society and openness in political representation Also in 2010, there were tensions between the movement and Italy of Values.
In March 2012 the city councillor in Rimini Valentino Tavolazzi advocated a national meeting on behalf of the movement, which gathered about 150 participants. At the meeting there was both praise and criticism from the participants including from the few politicians who were present at the convention. The meeting took a harsh stance on the "conditions of Regulation M5S" because it was discovered to be in conflict with the statutes of its Civic Party of origin "Project for Ferrara". In response they lost the use of the logo and were banned from taking any position on behalf of M5S, which was portrayed as a controversial move regarding internal democracy.
Since 2007 Grillo has criticized the cost of the policy by supporting the reduction of payment for deputies and senators. Based on this policy, the benefits received by the member of parliament must not exceed €5,000 gross per month, while any extra will be returned to the State with solidarity allowance (also called end-term). According to the regional director of the Five Star Movement Giovanni Favia, the deduction of €5,000 gross salary of parliamentarians is, however, contrary to the principles of the movement, as it would result in a reduction of only €2,500 net. In an interview which was published in several newspapers in November 2012, Favia estimated at €11,000 per month the fees prescribed for a member of M5S, even though it does not explain how it got to deduct that amount because it necessarily includes reimbursements and per diem is not flat, as costs and expenses which vary from member to member.
Following the expulsion of Giovanni Favia and Federica Salsi for expressing views about the lack of internal democracy, the party has expelled several members for criticisms. The expulsions were made unilaterally by Beppe Grillo and, as per regulation, took place without prior consultation with members of the movement.
Another criticism frequently made by the same movement activists and former activists, such as Federico Pistono, social entrepreneur and the former member, is about the absence of any form of effective participation on the web. There is a tool for collective writing of the program and the proposed laws, but the forum is considered inadequate for the purpose. Through his blog, in September 2012, Grillo said that a portal to participate via the web was already under construction. The triggering was scheduled for the end of the year 2012, but at the time of the elections of February 2013 it was not yet realized.
On 28 January 2014 Giorgio Sorial, a deputy of the M5S, accused President Giorgio Napolitano of being a hangman who repressed opponents. Prime Minister Enrico Letta immediately defended President Napolitano, charging the M5S with being extremists. The following day Angelo Tofalo, another deputy of the movement, ended his speech at the Chamber of Deputies by shouting boia chi molla! (coward who gives up!) a famous motto used during the Fascist era. Often the movement's members, especially its leader Beppe Grillo, have been accused of being too vulgar and (verbally) violent.
After a Five Star Movement demonstration inside the Chamber of Deputies against a law approved by the government, caused a brawl between the M5S, the centrist Civic Choice, the right-wing Brothers of Italy and the centre-left Democratic Party. Following insults to the President of the Chamber of Deputies Laura Boldrini, on 31 January 2014 Corrado Augias, a famous Italian journalist, stated that the violence used by the M5S reminded him of fascism. The following day a militant activist of the Five Star Movement burned some books of Augias and uploaded the photos to his Facebook profile, because according to him "Augias offended the movement". This episode was readily taken up by major national newspapers and heavily criticized by public opinion, due to some similarities with Nazi book burnings. Beppe Grillo criticized the action, saying that the person who uploaded the photos didn't represent the Movement.
|Chamber of Deputies|
|Election year|| # of
| % of
| # of
overall seats won
109 / 630
|Senate of the Republic|
|Election year|| # of
| % of
| # of
overall seats won
54 / 315
|Election year|| # of
| % of
| # of
overall seats won
17 / 73
|Region||Latest election|| # of
| % of
| # of|
overall seats won
|Abruzzo||2014||143,779 (#2)||21.4|| |
6 / 31
|Apulia||2015||275,114 (#2)||16.3|| |
7 / 51
|Aosta Valley||2013||4,773 (#6)||6.6|| |
2 / 35
|Basilicata||2013||21,219 (#3)||9.0|| |
2 / 21
|Calabria||2014||38,345 (#8)||4.9|| |
0 / 30
|Campania||2015||387,327 (#3)||17.0|| |
7 / 49
|Emilia-Romagna||2014||159,456 (#3)||13.3|| |
5 / 50
|Friuli-Venezia Giulia||2013||54,952 (#3)||13.8|| |
5 / 49
|Lazio||2013||467,249 (#3)||16.6|| |
7 / 50
|Liguria||2015||120,147 (#2)||22.9|| |
6 / 30
|Lombardy||2013||775,211 (#3)||14.3|| |
9 / 80
|Marche||2015||100,202 (#2)||18.9|| |
5 / 30
|Molise||2013||20,437 (#2)||12.2|| |
2 / 21
|Piedmont||2014||396,295 (#2)||20.3|| |
8 / 50
|Sicily||2012||285,202 (#1)||14.9|| |
15 / 90
|South Tyrol||2013||13,877 (#6)||5.8|| |
1 / 35
|Trentino||2013||13,877 (#7)||2.5|| |
2 / 35
|Tuscany||2015||200,771 (#3)||15.1|| |
5 / 41
|Umbria||2015||51,203 (#2)||14.5|| |
2 / 20
|Veneto||2015||192,630 (#4)||10.4|| |
5 / 51
- Spokesperson/President: Beppe Grillo (2009–present)
- Secretary: Enrico Maria Nadasi (2012–present)
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