Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Italy's Election: Networked Politics


The recent Italian elections have seen the rise of the "five star" movement founded and led by Mr Beppe Grillo (shown in the picture above). The movement is a "non party" completely structured around Internet networking. We may call it "networked politics" and it is surely a revolutionary innovation. But will it make a difference?

I've done some more investigation of Beppe Grillo's Movimento 5 Stelle. It has a very Green agenda, but it's more like the Pirate Party with a greener slant.

The Federation of Greens is the official Green Party of Italy, but only garners 2% of the vote. They have worked in coalition with Socialist and Communist parties and tend be socialist Greens. Beppe Grillo's M5S has a Green agenda, but rejects (even ridicules) socialist politics, which is probably why M5S got 25% of the vote. M5S pulled votes from both the Right and the Left. The Federation of Greens supports Grillo's M5S movement:

"In September 2010 the Greens launched an Ecologist Constituent Assembly. In Bonelli's view the new political force would have taken inspiration both from the French Verts and the German GrĂ¼nen and would have be open to the contribution of movements and associations, notably including Beppe Grillo's Five Star Movement."[Wikipedia]

Franco 'Biffo' Berardi also supports the M5S movment: 

"This movement of society that you propose, would it have any programme?
Biffo:
"The programme was set forth by Beppe Grillo, a programme which, despite what the professional liars of La Repubblica say, is very reasonable:

A citizen wage Reduction of the working week to 30 hours.The restitution to schools of the 8 billion dollars that the Berlusconi government stole from the education system. Good working conditions for all precarious workers in education, health and transport. Nationalisation of banks that have favoured speculation at the cost of the community. Immediate abolition of the fiscal pact."

The Italian national elections of this week have seen a clear winner: the "five star movement," founded by Mr. Beppe Grillo, former actor now turned politician. The movement didn't gain a majority, but it managed a stunning feat by gathering almost one quarter of the valid votes in its first appearance in a nation-wide election, nearly matching the results of the main traditional parties in Italy. More than that, Grillo and his colleagues were able to make the other parties look old, useless, and worn out in their desperate attempts of gathering votes by making promises that they knew they could never maintain.

This success is all the more surprising if we consider that the national political program of the movement is contained in just fifteen pages of generic proposals. The movement is a "non party" without a hierarchy and where elected members are seen just as spokespersons for the others. Most of the movement's candidates had little or no previous political experience and none of them is a known figure in politics or culture. The movement didn't do traditional media advertising and Mr. Grillo never even appeared on a TV debate. So, most voters seem to have chosen the movement as a reaction against the old parties, perceived as staffed with thieves, sex maniacs, and all sort of criminals. At least, this is the general interpretation of the results of the recent Italian elections. But, probably, the explanation goes somewhat deeper.

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