Death of a movement

Perhaps M5S can be better defined as the biggest awkward cuss right now in the Italian political room. It does badly in the polls and it performs even worse in nationally relevant regional elections – Emilia-Romagna and Calabria’s residents put together make a tenth of Italy’s population. A suspected trend has now been confirmed. Yet, M5S still governs in Rome; and may well continue until the end of the current legislature (2023).

Italians, unlike Britons and Spaniards, are being called less frequently to vote in a general election. Only twice in the past seven years. There’s a conscious effort on the part of the establishment, of which M5S are now firmly part, to improve Italy’s shaky – seen often as flippant – reputation. Constantly changing governments make markets suspicious, which leads to more expensive borrowing for an already heavily indebted state. M5S have learned this very basic lesson; and have thus stopped banging on against the EU. But they have also lost the innovative energy that propelled them into government in the first place. Now, they look just like anyone else – suited and booted, grey, but with less experience.

Recipe for failure

Ambiguous politics don’t pay. This may have its merits, short-to-medium-term, but long-term – and M5S have been in government for two years – you know you’re bound to derail: tracks ought to be as straight as possible. This is the lesson voters have taught Italy and elsewhere, in recent times.

Jeremy Corbyn’s stance on Brexit, an age-defining issue, was negatively paradigmatic: by not sticking to the same take, whichever it might have been, throughout the entire exit process, the London socialist dug his political grave with an invisible spade. He didn’t even know he was holding one. A Eurosceptic all his life, Corbyn strangely campaigned to stay in Europe; then, at the time of triggering Article 50, MPs were bullied into voting for it. Eventually, Corbyn conceded that a second referendum was on his party’s cards, making matters shockingly worse. In other words, the Islington North MP was the only one in the country to swerve and proudly leave conspicuous red skid marks on British roads; the more these stood out, the more drivers were alerted to them and steered clear – frightened. Change red to yellow, and you’ve got a M5S recipe for failure – just as tasty as Labour’s

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