Five Star Movement

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Five Star Movement
Movimento 5 Stelle
PresidentGiuseppe Conte
GuarantorBeppe Grillo[1][2]
Committee of TrusteesLuigi Di Maio
Roberto Fico
Virginia Raggi
FoundersBeppe Grillo
Gianroberto Casaleggio
Founded4 October 2009
HeadquartersVia Nomentana 257
Rome, Italy
Newspaper5 Stelle News
Membership (2019)115,372[3]
Political positionBig tent[8][9][10]
European Parliament groupEFDD (2014–2019)
Non-Inscrits (2019–present)
Colours  Yellow   White
Chamber of Deputies
159 / 630
74 / 315
European Parliament
8 / 76
Regions and Autonomous Provinces
0 / 21
88 / 897

The Five Star Movement (Italian: Movimento 5 Stelle [moviˈmento ˈtʃiŋkwe ˈstelle], M5S) is a political party in Italy. Its current leader and president is Giuseppe Conte, former Prime Minister of Italy from 2018 until 2021.[11]

The M5S was founded on 4 October 2009 by Beppe Grillo, a comedian and blogger, and Gianroberto Casaleggio, a web strategist.[12] In the 2013 general election, the M5S was the second-most popular single party, though it was only the third-most popular grouping, behind the centre-left and centre-right coalitions.[13] The M5S subsequently turned down a coalition offer with the centre-left coalition and entered opposition.

In 2014, Grillo appointed a directorate composed of five leading MPs (Alessandro Di Battista, Luigi Di Maio, Roberto Fico, Carla Ruocco and Carlo Sibilia),[14] which lasted until the following October when he dissolved it and proclaimed himself the "political head" of the M5S.[15] In 2016, two party members, Virginia Raggi[16] and Chiara Appendino, were elected mayors of Rome and Turin, respectively. On 21–22 September 2017, the Vice President of the Chamber of Deputies Luigi Di Maio was elected with 82% of votes in an online primary election as candidate to the premiership and "political head" of the movement, replacing Grillo as leader of the M5S, but not as the M5S's "guarantor".[17][18] In January 2018, Grillo separated his own blog from the movement, which was used in the previous years as an M5S online newspaper and the main organ.[19] In the 2018 general election, the M5S became the largest party in the Italian Parliament and entered government led by Giuseppe Conte.[20]

From the foundation until 2021, Grillo also formally served as president of the association named the Five Star Movement; his nephew, Enrico Grillo, served as vice president and his accountant, Enrico Maria Nadasi, as secretary.[1] After the 2021 leadership election, a new statute was approved and Giuseppe Conte became the new president, while Grillo continued to be the so-called Guarantor of the movement.[21]

The M5S is variously considered populist,[22][23] anti-establishment,[23][24] and environmentalist.[25][26] However, from 2014 to 2019, the M5S often supported right wing policies, especially on immigration,[27][28] with the party described as anti-immigration,[29][30] anti-globalist,[31][32][33][34] and Eurosceptic.[35][36][37] The party has also been described as New Right[38] and right-wing[39] despite its promotion of policies usually advocated by the Italian left-wing, such as citizen's income and green-inspired policies.[40] Grillo himself once provocatively referred to the movement as "populist".[41] Its members stress that the M5S is not a party but a "movement". The "five stars" are a reference to five key issues for the party: common goods, integral ecology, social justice, technological innovation, and eco-social market economy.[citation needed] The party also advocates e-democracy, direct democracy,[25][42] the principle of "zero-cost politics",[43] degrowth[44] and nonviolence.[45]

From 2014 to 2017, the M5S was a member of the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD) group in the European Parliament, along with the UK Independence Party and minor right-wing parties. In January 2017, M5S members voted in favor of Grillo's proposal to join the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) group, but the party was eventually refused,[46] and currently sit as Non-Inscrits.



On 16 July 2005, Beppe Grillo suggested through his blog that supporters adopt social networks, such as Meetup, to communicate and coordinate local meetings. The first "40 Friends of Beppe Grillo" meetups began with the initial aim to "have fun, get together, share ideas and proposals for a better world, starting from one's own city, and discuss and develop my posts, if you believe them".[47] Meetups featured thematic working groups on topics entitled "technology and innovation", "press-communication", "ethical consumerism", "currency study", "no incinerators" and others.[48][49] From these beginnings, Grillo was asked to stand in the October 2005 primaries for the selection of the prime ministerial candidate of the centre-left coalition, The Union.[50]

On three occasions (17 December 2005 in Turin, 26 March 2006 in Piacenza, and 16 to 18 June 2006 in Sorrento), the representatives of the Friends of Beppe Grillo meetups held national meetings with Grillo, where proposals regarding environmental issues such as the replacement of polluting incinerators with systems applying mechanical-biological waste treatment were discussed.[51]

During the fourth national meeting held in Genoa on 3 February 2007, Grillo announced his desire to provide an autonomous space during his touring shows for local meetup activists.

On 14 July 2007, some civic list representatives who participated in local elections the previous spring met in Parma to establish a national coordination between associations, movements, and organizations. They met to practice promoting and experimenting with direct and participatory democracy and to share a document of intent, which included the establishment of proposals, repealing referenda, the direct election of the Ombudsman, the institution of participatory budgeting, and a "bound" mandate for public administrators and open primaries.


V-Day in Bologna, 2007

On 14 June 2007, Grillo launched Vaffanculo Day (Fuck-off Day), or V-Day, in Bologna. V-Day was meant to mobilize the collection of signatures to submit a popular initiative seeking to introduce preferences in the current electoral law and to prevent parliamentary candidate nominations for the criminally convicted and those who have already completed two terms in office.[52]

The name V-Day was chosen to reflect four references. The first refers to the Normandy landings of the Allies in Normandy during World War II in order to symbolise how Italian citizens would "invade" bad policy. The second refers to the motion picture and graphic novel V for Vendetta which the Five Stars Movement frequently relates with its principles of political renewal (the logo of the movement shares the use of a red V symbol with the franchise). The third refers to the interjection "vaffanculo" ("fuck you!") directed at bad policy. The fourth is a reference to the Roman numeral for five.[citation needed]

V-Day, which continued the "Clean Parliament" initiative promoted by Grillo since 2006, took place in many Italian cities on 8 September 2007 to evoke the state of confusion caused by the Badoglio Proclamation on 8 September 1943. On that day, 336,000 signatures were collected, far exceeding the 50,000 required to file a popular initiative law. For the occasion, Michele Serra coined the term grillismo.[53]

V2-Day was organised for 25 April 2008, a second day of action aimed at collecting signatures for three referenda. 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, defined the policies for the establishment of civic lists. On 10 October 2007, Grillo gave guidance on how to create the civic lists.[54]

Five Star Civic Lists[edit]

On 3 December 2008, Grillo presented the symbol of the Five Star Civic Lists for the 2009 local elections. The logo in the "V" of "citizenship" is a reference to V-Day[55] On 17 February 2009 in Bologna, 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.[citation needed]

On 8 March 2009, the first national meeting of the Five Star Civic Lists was held in Florence. Here, Grillo presented the Charter of Florence, a 12-point program of the various local civic lists in the afternoon. About twenty local groups presented their ideas and experiences. In April, Grillo announced he had received a letter from Nobel Prize winner in economics Joseph Stiglitz in which he declared he would look carefully at the experience of local civic lists promoted through the blog.[56]

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).[57] 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 North Italy.[58]

On 9 September 2009, the launch of the National Five Star Movement, inspired by the ideologies of the Charter of Florence, was announced.[59]

Along with Gianroberto Casaleggio, on 4 October 2009, Grillo declared the birth of the Five Star Movement and presented a programme at the Emerald Theatre in Milan.[60]

2010–2012 regional and local elections[edit]

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, with two regional councilors elected); Davide Bono 4.1% in Piedmont (3.7%, two councilors); David Borrelli 3.2% in Veneto (2.6%, no councilors); Vito Crimi 3.0% in Lombardy (2.3%, no councilors); and Roberto Fico 1.3% in Campania (1.3%, no councilors).[61]

In the local elections on 15 and 16 May 2011, the M5S was present in 75 of the 1,177 municipalities in the vote,[citation needed] including 18 of the 23 provincial capitals called to vote. In the first round, the M5S entered its representatives in 28 municipalities (for a total of 34 elected councilors) and often resulting in some important decisive ballots.[62] Its best results were in the cities and towns of the center-north, especially in Emilia-Romagna where the list achieved a share of the vote of between 9% and 12% in Bologna, Rimini and Ravenna) and Piedmont. In the south it rarely obtained 2% of the vote.[citation needed]

In the regional elections in Molise on 16 and 17 October 2011, the M5S had its own candidate for the presidency and its own list. The list received 2.27% of the votes and the presidential candidate garnered 5.60% of the vote, but the movement achieved no seats.[63]

In the 2012 local elections, the M5S did well in several cities of the North, notably in Genoa (14.1%),[64] Verona (9.5%),[65] Parma (19.9%),[66] Monza (10.2%),[67] and Piacenza (10.0%).[68] 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).[69] In the run-offs the party won the mayorships of Parma (60.2%),[66] Mira (52.5%),[70] and Comacchio (69.2%).[71] After the election, the party consistently scored around 15–20% nationally in opinion polls, frequently ahead of The People of Freedom and second to the Democratic Party.[citation needed]

In 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.[72][73] In the election, Cancelleri came third with 18.2% of the vote, while the M5S was the most voted for party at 14.9%, obtaining 15 seats out of 90 in the Regional Assembly in a very fragmented political landscape.[74] However, the election was characterised by low participation as only 47.4% of eligible voters turned out to vote.[75]

2013 general election[edit]

On 29 October 2012, Grillo announced guidelines for candidates wishing to stand in the 2013 general election.[76][77] For the first time in Italy, the candidates were chosen by party members through an online primary, which took place 3 to 6 December.[78]

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, for breaking the party's rules. 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.[79]

On 22 February 2013, a large crowd of 800,000 people attended Grillo's final rally before the 2013 general election in Piazza San Giovanni in Rome.[80] On 24 and 25 February 2013, the M5S contested all Italian constituencies: 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, a total of 8,784,499 votes, making it the second most voted-for list after the Democratic Party (which acquired 25.42% of the votes in Italy and 29.9% abroad, or 8,932,615 votes), electing 108 deputies. The M5S vote for the Senate was 23.79% in Italy and 10% abroad, a total of 7,375,412 votes, second only to the Democratic Party (which garnered 8,674,893 votes), electing 54 Senators. The party gained a higher share of the vote than was predicted 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 dominated by the Democratic Party, and the centre-right alliance centred on The People of Freedom, obtained more votes as coalitions.[81] The M5S was the largest party in the Abruzzo, Marche, Liguria, Sicily and Sardinia regions.[citation needed]

On 21 March 2013, Luigi Di Maio was elected vice president of the Chamber of Deputies with 173 votes. Aged 26, he was the youngest vice president of the house to date.[82][83][84]

2014 European election[edit]

Competing in its first European election, the M5S won second place at the national level 2014 European Parliament elections, receiving 21.15% of the vote and returning 17 members of the European Parliament (MEP).[85]

Beppe Grillo addresses the crowd in Rome, 2014.

In the run-up to the 8th parliamentary term, the M5S lacked 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).[86][87] On 4 June 2014, The Greens/EFA rejected Grillo's attempts to obtain group membership.[88] 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.[89] 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.[90] Party activists voted 78.1% to join the EFD group.[91] On 18 June 2014, it was announced that the EFD group had enough MEPs to continue into the 8th European Parliament term.[92] 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.[93][94] 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.[95]

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 ( with the official movement URL.[96] The other option was to remove Grillo's URL entirely, replacing it with nothing. The grounds for 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".[97]

Gianroberto Casaleggio's death[edit]

The movement's founder and main strategist Gianroberto Casaleggio died on 12 April 2016 in Milan at the age of 61 after a long period of illness due to brain cancer.[98] After his death, his son Davide was appointed as the president of Casaleggio Associati and took his father's office as leader and strategist of the M5S.[99]

2018 general election[edit]

In the 2018 general election held on 4 March 2018, none of the three main groupings (the M5S, the centre-right coalition and the Democratic Party-led centre-left) won a majority of seats in Parliament, although the M5S became the largest individual party, with 32.7% of the vote and 227 seats in the Chamber. In May, the M5S entered into coalition talks with centre-left Democratic Party, but Matteo Renzi publicly criticized and rejected the deal being discussed by his fellow party members; the Movement then turned to the Lega Nord. The talks resulted in the proposal for a so-called Government of Change under the leadership of Giuseppe Conte, a law professor close to the M5S.[100] The formation of the cabinet initially failed on 27 May as President Sergio Mattarella did not agree on the appointment of Paolo Savona as Minister of Economy and Finances due to his perceived Euroscepticism.[101][102]

2019 European Parliament election[edit]

Map showing the 2019 European Parliament election result

In the European Parliament election, the party saw decline in its vote share and the number of seats held. In the 2014 election the party won 21.2% of the vote and 17 seats; while in the 2019 election, the party won 17.1% of the vote and 14 seats.[103][104] The results were seen as a significant defeat for the party as the League was able to surpass M5S in terms of vote share and seats by a large margin. Additionally, the results showed the party had seen a significant decline since the 2018 general election.[105] After the results, Di Maio called a vote of confidence in his leadership which saw several officials criticised Di Maio after Rousseau's (the online platform used by the party) transparency was questioned earlier on in the year.[106] On 31 May, Di Maio won the vote of confidence, with the support of 80% of 56,127 5-Star members who voted on the motion, after the results Di Maio pledged to reform the party, this signalled his desire for the party to transform into a more traditional political party.[107][108]

2020 leadership crisis[edit]

On 22 January 2020, four days before important elections, Di Maio resigned as party leader, and was replaced by Vito Crimi.[109]

The conservative Spanish newspaper ABC reported on 15 June that then-Foreign Minister of Venezuela Nicolás Maduro paid Gianroberto Casaleggio €3.5 million in 2010 to finance an "anticapitalist, leftist movement in the Italian Republic". Davide Casaleggio said this was fake news that had already surfaced in 2016.[110]

2021 government collapse and Draghi Cabinet[edit]

On 26 January 2021, Conte government resigned as prime minister. On 11 February, registered members of the party were made to vote yes or no to a Draghi government through the SkyVote platform. 59% voted Yes to the question.[111] The debate over whether to support the Draghi government led to a split in the party,[112] and the party expelled parliamentarians who voted against Draghi.[113]

On 23 April 2021, M5S and its web platform called Rousseau separated from one another. This was mainly due to a strained relationship as many parliamentarians refused to cover the costs of Rousseau Association. This resulted on the Association cutting its ties and sending its employees home on reduced pay. Additionally disagreements between Davide Casaleggio and Conte over the latter's proposed reforms led to an increasingly strained relationship. After the separation, M5S accused the association of interference in the party's decisions.[114]

On 6 August 2021, after a two-day online election in which 67,064 members voted, Conte was elected President of the M5S with 62,242 votes (93%) in favour.[115][116]


In the M5S, themes are derived from ecology and anti-particracy, promoting the direct participation of citizens, who converge 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, recognizing to all users of the Internet the role of government and direction that is normally attributed to a few".[117] 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 for an overall better quality of life and greater social justice.[118] The M5S proposes the adoption of large-scale energy projects, elimination of waste, sustainable mobility, protection of territory from overbuilding and teleworking.[119] 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.[120]

Direct democracy[edit]

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.[117]

In order to go in this direction, the M5S chose its Italian and European parliamentary candidates through online voting by registered members of Beppe Grillo's blog.[121][122] Through an application called Rousseau reachable on the web,[123] 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 votes,[124] like the name of the M5S candidate for President of the Republic.[125] 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 opinions of Grillo and Casaleggio.[126] 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.[88][127]


Author Simone Natale describes how digital utopianism plays a pivotal role in M5S's worldview, saying that Grillo and Casaleggio describe the web as a "transparent, unified, coherent entity", with its own logic, laws, agency and disruptive agenda. She says that the web, which acts as a mythical panacea, can and “wants” to cure the social and economic ills of Italy, leading the nation towards a more prudent future. She also says that the web is described as a “supermedium” which will significantly change all political, social, informational, and organizational processes.[128] Another author by the name of Roberto Biorcio says that Grillo used the internet as a way for widespread dissemination of their politics consisting of two elements. The first is the idea that the people can express their feelings of "Vaffanculo" which literally translates as "Fuck off!" aimed at the entirety of the political class. Ironically, as the author notes, is that at the same time it was an attempt to transform protest into legitimate political action as they gathered 450,000 signatures for three legislative initiatives created to promulgate a "clean parliament".[129] Another author Eric Turner stipulates that despite the Internet being promoted by Beppe Grillo as horizontal and without hierarchy, he says many people in Italy critique that claim as being deceiving. He quotes blogger Massimo Mantetellini by saying that the mass comments and posts created by the M5S actually create confusion and allows a top-down modality in which the leaders don't follow their own ideas and principles.[130]

Environmental, economic, and social issues[edit]

The Five Star Movement has roots in environmentalism, as well as a left-wing stance on some major social issues. Author Fabio Bordignon states that the very first battles of Beppe Grillo's "people" had their roots relating to but not exclusively: environmentalism and renewable energy; the problems of poverty and precarious employment; the battles against the power of big business and the effects of globalization; the morality of the political sphere and civil rights. He goes on to say that roughly about 10–15% of the laws proposed over the years are dedicated to the environment alone.[131] Another Author, Paolo Natale, claims that in the first years of the party's major success (around 2012), the Movement was made up of mainly younger generations of people, and for the most part males who had received high levels of education as well as having left wing political stances. The author states that these people were searching for alternative ways of participating in politics besides the regular scheme of what existed, and especially in order to achieve good administration, high-quality public transport and green spaces, but with sensitivity to problems linked to local crime.[132] Furthermore, in light of the 2013 election, in order to exemplify how the M5S ranks among other parties for social and environmental stances, author and economist Nicolo Conti created a chart using poll data, the various parties' individual manifestos, and how these preferences interacted and translated into a policy space that the parties contested. His results were that the M5S ranks 1st among other parties in welfare expansion, environmental protection, and market regulation, where welfare expansion meant the expansion of public social services (excludes education), environmental protection meant policies in favor of preserving/conserving the environment, and market regulation meant policies designed to create an equitable and open economic market.[133]

Politics is not a career[edit]

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 return to their original job.[117] Another feature of the movement is the so-called "zero-cost politics",[43] according to which politics must not become a career and way to make money. Belonging to the movement requires the self-reduction of the salaries of the citizens elected.[134][135] 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 to a fund for microcredit to help small and medium enterprises.[136] In the general elections of 2013, the M5S claimed to have rejected over €42 million of public electoral refunds,[137] supporting its expenses for the campaign with crowdfunding through the blog.[138]

No criminal records[edit]

In order to be M5S candidates, citizens must not have a criminal record.[117] 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,[139][140] which show the intricate conflicts of interest between any organization, subsequently strengthened by public register[141] to avoid centralizations that are nepotistic and clientelistic.[142]

Same-sex marriage[edit]

On 15 July 2012, Grillo publicly expressed his support for same-sex marriage[143] while the subject was discussed in the National Assembly.[144] In offering his support to marriage between homosexual citizens, Grillo broke his silence on the subject. Some observers had speculated he opposed same-sex marriage.[145]

On 28 October 2014, an online referendum took place among the activists of the M5S on the recognition of same-sex civil partnerships: 21,360 voted yes and 3,908 voted no.[146] 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 to vote their conscience on the matter.[147]

No alliances[edit]

Grillo's campaign has an unwillingness to form alliances as a result of his refusal to be associated or characterized like any of the older political families including the centre-left and centre-right. As the government itself is made up of both centre-left and centre-right parties, the M5S has had difficulties coming to an agreement with any of the other parties. Despite the different views within the party, the issues on which the movement agrees keep the party intact through advocating the main five principles of the M5S.[148]

A Tecné poll in the aftermath of the 2018 Italian general election suggested that 56% of M5S voters preferred a government coalition between M5S and Lega Nord. A coalition between the M5S and the centre-right coalition as a whole was preferred by only 4%. 22% preferred a coalition between the M5S, the centre-left coalition led by the Democratic Party and left-wing Free and Equal. A technocratic government was only supported by 1% of the M5S's voters.[149]


The M5S's position on immigration has been ambiguous, but Grillo wrote in his blog on 23 December 2016 that all illegal immigrants should be expelled from Italy, that Schengen should be temporarily suspended in the event of a terrorist attack until the threat has been removed, and that there should be revision of the Dublin Regulation.[150][151] On 21 April 2017, Grillo published a piece questioning the role non-governmental organizations (NGOs) operating rescue ships off Libya are playing in the migrant crisis, asking where are they getting their money, and strongly suggesting they may be aiding traffickers.[152] On 5 August 2017, Luigi Di Maio, who led the M5S in the 2018 election, called for "an immediate stop to the sea-taxi service" bringing migrants to Europe.[153]

European affiliation[edit]

About the politics of the European Union and the Euro, the M5S has often been highly critical, but like on other issues its position is ambiguous. On 12 June 2014, the M5S having been rejected by both the Greens/EFA,[154] and the ALDE[155] European Parliament groups, offered its activists a limited-choice online referendum to choose a group for the party. 78% of participating activists voted for the Eurosceptic EFDD.[156][91]

In January 2017, the M5S tried to change its group inside the European Parliament, moving from the EFDD to the ALDE. Despite an initial agreement, ALDE leader Guy Verhofstadt refused the M5S' admission to the group due to insufficient guarantees to come to a common position on European integration.[157] The attempted move caused a chilling of relations with EFDD leader Nigel Farage, who was not informed about the M5S' agreement with the ALDE.[158] Grillo was highly critical of the rejection and blamed "the establishment" for preventing them joining the ALDE.[159] On 9 January, the Radio Radicale news correspondent David Carretta published documents about the financial and political benefits which would have accrued to the M5S for its admission to ALDE on Twitter.[160]

In December 2017, the M5S electoral leader Luigi Di Maio stated that he supported a referendum for Italy to leave the Eurozone and would vote to leave.[161] However, he rejected his previous position in January 2018,[162] refusing the idea of a referendum on the Euro, which was previously strongly supported by the movement.[163] In February 2018, Di Maio also stated that "European Union is the Five Star Movement's home".[164]

Internal organization[edit]

The party has been characterized as an entrepreneurial party.[165]

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[166][167][168] Also in 2010, there were tensions between the movement and Italy of Values party.[169]

Beppe Grillo (on the right) with Giovanni Favia (on the left), who was expelled from the movement in 2011

In March 2012, a city councilor in Rimini, Valentino Tavolazzi, advocated a national meeting on behalf of the movement,[170][171] 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.[172] 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[173][174] and were banned from taking any position on behalf of M5S, which was portrayed as a controversial move regarding internal democracy.[175][176][177]

Since 2007, Grillo has criticized the cost of politics by supporting the reduction of payment for deputies and senators.[178] Based on this policy, the benefits received by members of parliament would not exceed €5,000 gross per month, with any surplus returned to the state with solidarity allowance (also called end-term). However, according to the regional director of the M5S, Giovanni Favia, the deduction of €5,000 gross salary of parliamentarians is contrary to the principles of the movement as it would result in a reduction of only €2,500 net. In an interview published in several newspapers in November 2012, Favia estimated at €11,000 per month the fees prescribed for a member of M5S. The article does not explain how Favia 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.[179]

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.[180][181] The expulsions were made unilaterally by Grillo and as per regulation took place without prior consultation with members of the movement.[182][183][184]

Another criticism frequently made by the same movement activists and former activists, such as Federico Pistono, social entrepreneur and author of Robots Will Steal Your Job, But That's OK: How to Survive the Economic Collapse and Be Happy and former member,[185] is about the absence of any form of effective participation on the web.[186] There is a tool for collective writing of the program and the proposed laws, but the forum is considered inadequate for the purpose.[187][188] Through his blog in September 2012, Grillo said that a portal to participate via the web was already under construction.[189] The triggering was scheduled for the end of 2012, but at the time of the February 2013 elections it was not yet realized.[citation needed]


On 28 January 2014, Giorgio Sorial, a deputy of the M5S, accused President Giorgio Napolitano of being a hangman who repressed opponents.[190][191] Prime Minister Enrico Letta immediately defended President Napolitano, charging the M5S with being extremists.[192] The following day, Angelo Tofalo, another deputy of the movement, ended his speech in the Chamber of Deputies by shouting Boia chi molla! ("Hangman the one who gives up!") a famous motto used during the Fascist era.[193][194] Often the movement's members, especially its leader Beppe Grillo, have been accused of being too vulgar and (verbally) violent.[195][196]

Once a M5S demonstration inside the Chamber of Deputies against a law approved by the government[197][198] caused a brawl between the M5S, the centrist Civic Choice, the right-wing Brothers of Italy and the centre-left Democratic Party.[199] Following insults to the President of the Chamber of Deputies Laura Boldrini,[200] Italian journalist Corrado Augias stated on 31 January 2014 that the violence used by the M5S reminded him of fascism.[201] The following day, a militant activist of the M5S burned some of Augias books and uploaded the photos to his Facebook profile because according to him "Augias offended the movement".[202] This episode was readily taken up by major national newspapers and heavily criticized by public opinion due to some similarities with Nazi book burnings.[203] Grillo criticized the action, saying the person who uploaded the photos did not represent the movement.[204]

In the 2018 campaign the M5S asserted that they would not have given public money to banks.[205] In 2019 the M5S–Lega coalition gave its consent to the possible bailout of Banca Carige's debt, consisting of an amount of up to 1.6 billion dollars, in order to compensate bondholders and shareholders. The M5S had previously criticized a similar bailout of Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena approved by the Gentiloni government.[206]

Electoral results[edit]

Chamber of Deputies
Election year Votes % Seats +/− Leader
2013 8,691,406 (2nd) 25.6
109 / 630
Increase 109 Beppe Grillo
2018 10,732,066 (1st) 32.7
227 / 630
Increase 119 Luigi Di Maio
Senate of the Republic
Election year Votes % Seats +/− Leader
2013 7,285,648 (2nd) 23.8
54 / 315
Increase 54 Beppe Grillo
2018 9,733,928 (1st) 32.2
112 / 315
Increase 58 Luigi Di Maio

European Parliament[edit]

European Parliament
Election year Votes % Seats +/− Leader
2014 5,807,362 (2nd) 21.2
17 / 73
Beppe Grillo
2019 4,569,089 (3rd) 17.1
14 / 76
Decrease 3 Luigi Di Maio

Regional Councils[edit]

Region Election year Votes % Seats +/−
Aosta Valley 2020 2,589 (9th) 3.9
0 / 35
Decrease 4
Piedmont 2019 241,014 (3rd) 12.6
5 / 51
Decrease 3
Lombardy 2018 933,243 (3rd) 17.8
13 / 80
Increase 4
South Tyrol 2018 6,670 (8th) 2.4
1 / 35
Steady 0
Trentino 2018 18,437 (4th) 7.2
2 / 35
Steady 0
Veneto 2020 55,281 (6th) 2.7
0 / 50
Decrease 5
Friuli-Venezia Giulia 2018 29,810 (4th) 7.1
4 / 49
Decrease 1
Emilia-Romagna 2020 102,595 (5th) 4.7
2 / 50
Decrease 3
Liguria 2020 48,722 (5th) 7.8
2 / 30
Decrease 4
Tuscany 2020 113,386 (4th) 7.0
1 / 40
Decrease 4
Marche 2020 44,330 (4th) 7.1
3 / 30
Decrease 2
Umbria 2019 30,953 (4th) 7.4
1 / 21
Decrease 1
Lazio 2018 559,752 (1st) 22.1
10 / 51
Increase 3
Abruzzo 2019 118,273 (2nd) 19.7
7 / 31
Increase 1
Molise 2018 45,886 (1st) 31.6
6 / 21
Increase 4
Campania 2020 233,974 (3rd) 9.9
7 / 50
Apulia 2020 165,243 (3rd) 9.9
5 / 50
Decrease 2
Basilicata 2019 58,658 (1st) 20.3
3 / 21
Increase 1
Calabria 2020 48,784 (9th) 6.3
0 / 30
Steady 0
Sicily 2017 513,359 (1st) 26.7
20 / 70
Increase 5
Sardinia 2019 68,461 (4th) 9.7
6 / 60




Term start Term end Duration
1 Beppe Grillo 3.jpg Beppe Grillo
(born 1948)
4 October 2009 23 September 2017 7 years, 354 days
Political Leader
2 Luigi Di Maio 2018 camera.jpg Luigi Di Maio
(born 1986)
23 September 2017 22 January 2020 2 years, 121 days
Vito Claudio Crimi datisenato 2018 (cropped).jpg Vito Crimi
(born 1972)
22 January 2020 6 August 2021 1 year, 196 days
3 Giuseppe Conte (cropped).jpg Giuseppe Conte
(born 1964)
6 August 2021 Incumbent 71 days
Comitato di garanzia (Committee of Trustees)

Parliamentary leadership[edit]



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Further reading[edit]

  • Bigi Alessandro, Bonera Michelle, Bal Anjali (2015) Evaluating political party positioning over time: a proposed methodology. Journal of Public affairs, DOI: 10.1002.
  • De Rosa, Rosanna (2013). Voice of the People or Cybercratic Centralism? The Italian case of Beppe Grillo and Movimento Cinque Stelle. Edition Donau-Universität Krems. pp. 89–102.
  • Lanzone, Maria Elisabetta (2014). The "Post-Modern" Populism in Italy: The Case of the Five Star Movement. Emerald Group. pp. 53–78.
  • Musiani, Francesca (2014). Avant-garde: Digital Movement or "Digital Sublime" Rhetoric? The Movimento 5 Stelle and the 2013 Italian Parliamentary Elections. Springer. pp. 127–140.
  • Sæbø, Øystein; Braccini, Alession Maria; Federici, Tommaso (2015). From the Blogosphere into Real Politics: The Use of ICT by the Five Star Movement. Springer. pp. 241–250.
  • Tronconi, Filippo (2015). Beppe Grillo's Five Star Movement. Organisation, Communication and Ideology. Ashgate. ISBN 978-1-4724-3663-4.


External links[edit]