In the recent elections in Italy, the results show the appearance of a new movement called 5-stars that has been portrayed as a disaster. Having the key to majority in both houses, this movement has been quickly vilified into an unstable bunch of populists with no real agenda behind. As if, ironically, this was a rare event in Italy rather than a common political strategy by both right and left.
But how dodgy is this movement and how ungovernable is Italy? And if this is not so, why is the international media portraying it as such?
The 5-star movement has a simple political agenda, pushing for real or direct democracy to replace the existing Italian political system filled with corruption; limiting all public mandates; questioning the Euro and Europe; making financial institutions accountable for their actions, and a series of other points to reset the country and to make it more accountable to Italians. This agenda has brought in all the discontent Italian voters to the polls and given them 25,5% of the votes, more than the traditional parties, even if, through a series of coalitions they are third in number of actual elected members (109/630 in the Chamber and 54 out of 315 in the Senate), but avoiding either the left or right having an outright majority.
It is not a new movement either, it has presented itself for the last 3 years in local elections, also springing a surprise with their results. In those elections they have formed, in some cases, coalition governments with the left parties, putting forward their agenda and provoking real changes in the way public institutions make policy at local level. This has, of course, fuelled its success at national level.
So why is Italy supposedly unstable? Well, because the 5-star movement challenges the orthodoxy in which European states have moved for the last 65 years, making the industrial, political and financial elites accountable and not so comfortable Mass media, being controlled by such elites (remember that Silvio Berlusconi owns most private media in Italy for instance), is the voice of this elite, which has found it more suitable to portray an ideologically poor movement which could only provoke chaos, rather than a real push for change. And the European Commission has quickly followed this speech with a movement that questions Europe and its institutions.
Most of us, who will not look further, will therefore end up with this view and not recognised the true value of Italians taking control of their own future.