Anticorruption movement on the rise in Italy

ITALY Many Italians are tired of corruption and the political system. Their anger has given rise to a new political movement.  It was founded two and half years ago by the famous comedian Beppe Grillo who has been blacklisted from TV because of his criticism against the system.

By Thomas Pickelner

The famous comedian Beppe Grillo founded Movimento 5 Stelle.   Photo: Thomas Pickelner

In a big white house in Genua ,with a big view over the ocean and the big port city, Beppe Grillo lives.

“We thought Berlusconi was the problem but he wasn’t. Berlusconi was only a virus in an already infected system that permits these kinds of people to get in. It’s the system that we need to change”, Beppe Grillo says.

The comedian is one of the most famous people in Italy. He used to be on primetime TV but he was blacklisted because of his political criticism. He started a blog to make sure his ideas were still heard, and it soon became a success. Now its one of the most read blogs in the world and it has also been ranked as one of the most powerful.

Today it is the third most visited homepage in Italy after two big newspapers. It has developed to be more of a community than a blog. This became the tool for Beppe Grillo to found the political movement Moviemento 5 Stelle in October 2009.

“ But I don’t want to be a political leader. This is a movement for the people by the people”,  Beppe Grillo says. “I just opened the door for it”.

 No criminal record is allowed

The five stars represent transport, development, connectability, environment and publically owned water. Civic lists, groups of citizens who run for local elections were created so anyone could apply to represent the movement in their cities.

The movement controls three things centrally before they get approved as spokespersons. First that they are living in the city that they want to administer so that they know the problems, second that they are not registered in another party and the main thing, that they don’t have a criminal record.

“ There are to many politicians with a criminal past and record in the government today. To get rid of corruption and to gain the peoples trust it is important that we have honest people representing us”, Beppe Grillo says.

Beppe Grillo is known to be explosive and sometimes vulgar, using a lot of swear words in his shows. But during the interview he is calm, except for his Italian way to speak with his hands all over the place. He looks me in the eyes and says:

“ So you are coming from Sweden, a heaven on earth. People coming here to visit from countries like yours are going to Rome. Florence or Venice and say “look how beautiful it is. But they don’t see that underneath the surface it is disintegrating, everything that we’ve had, everything we have built up”.


Click on the picture to get a slideshow: Anticorruption movement on the rise in Italy on Prezi

Voice to frustration

Roberto D’Alimonte is a professor of political science at the Luiss Guido Carli University in Rome. He is also a well known political journalist in Italy. He thinks that the movement will continue to increase at a local level if there is no change in the political establishment.

“They are giving a voice to frustration. The movement preceded the euro crisis but certainly the euro crisis created a mood that benefits them”, he says.

The movement has its biggest support in the north of Italy and one big reason for that is that here is a greater use of internet and the movement is mostly based on the web.

Today they would gain between 4-7 percent of the votes nationally from both the left and right wing according to recent surveys.

“But they can’t aim to rule the country because they don’t want to collaborate with other parties.  It is not a part of their DNA since they are anti-government”, professor D’Alimonte  says and adds:

“As long as they are running alone they will get no influence, they have to make deals”.

 Focusing on local elections

Beppe Grillo thinks that the movement could reach national government already in next years election. But their first goal at the moment are the local elections. (read more about it here)

“The future of Italy is small companies and the people. The people will start to make a change in the cities that they live in and maybe one day the people will gain some control in the national government. The future is us”, he says and smiles proudly.

Beppe Grillo has twice organised so called V-day’s’ which means ‘Fuck off’ days in Italy. Over a million people showed up on these days on different piazzas all over Italy to show their fingers to the political system and to politicians with a criminal record.

Soon he will get on tour again to 100 piazzas in those cities having a local election to spread his ideas and to present the list of candidates.

Read here about the local elections, where Moviemento 5 Stelle are hoping to win more seats

Click on the picture to see a TV-report about the Movimento 5 Stelle


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