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A long-term view on current Italian populism: Beppe Grillo’s M5S (Five-Stars Movement) as the third wave of Italian populist upheaval.

Abstract : Most analysts of the Italian M5S (‘Five-Stars Movement’) created by the humorist and comedian Beppe Grillo underline its great novelty, mainly the fact that this party began with a blog (www.beppegrillo.it) before becoming a party with a grass-roots organization. To universal surprise, with no known previous organization (or even sponsoring organization) before the mid-2000’s, the M5S, which presents itself as “ a citizen’s movement” managed to participate at the Italian general election of 2013 and to became, on the Italian soil, the most voted party. While knowing many difficulties typical of a new party, it remains in 2016 one of the main forces in the Italian political landscape. Another conceptualization than ‘novelty’ seems necessary to better understand the impact of this new political actor: the M5S should be viewed as the main actor of a third wave of mobilization against established Italian parties since the 1970’s. The first wave began with the Radical Party of Marco Panella, the electoral extreme left, and the early Italian Greens, but also with the northern Regional Leagues. The second wave in the late 1980’s and the early 1990’s saw as main protagonists, the ‘Northern League’ of Umberto Bossi, the Sicilian-born anti-mafia movement, the ‘Rete’ of Leoluca Orlando, and the ‘referendum committees’ of Mario Segni . Both previous waves of mobilizations gave way to a strong and winning answer from the established parties or elites, which ‘changed everything to change nothing’ mimicking the populist appeal of their challengers, and also managed to co-opt most of their leadership. The same phenomenon seems to be on the way with the M5S: in fact the ‘populist’ answer given by the Democratic Party in charge of Italian government since 2014 under the leadership of Matteo Renzi seems able to limit the scope of the influence of the M5S and other opponents. At the grass-roots of this peculiar Italian situation lies the incapacity from the part of established parties since the mid-1970’s to deliver long-awaited consensual public policies (fight against corruption, fight against mafias, improvement of the overall level of education, North/South question, capacity to respect European standards, etc.) even more than their incapacity to cope with day-to-day economic and social problems since 2007/08.
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Contributor : Christophe Bouillaud Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Tuesday, July 12, 2016 - 3:42:40 PM
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Christophe Bouillaud. A long-term view on current Italian populism: Beppe Grillo’s M5S (Five-Stars Movement) as the third wave of Italian populist upheaval.. 2nd International Populism Conference in Prague: “Current Populism: Impact on the Political Landscape”, Goethe-Institut Prague; Heinrich Böll Sfiftung Praha; Faculty of Social Sciences - Charles University, May 2016, Prague, Czech Republic. ⟨halshs-01344791⟩



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