Analysis. The Five Star Movements faces its deepest crisis yet, losing the major cities it governed. ‘We must start again from the citizens.’ Leaders vow to organize.

Conte focuses on voter abstentionism as Five Stars slide across Italy

“Congratulations to the mayors of Ginosa, Noicattaro and Pinerolo, who are confirmed at the helm of their cities,” said the vice-minister for economy, Laura Castelli, on Monday afternoon. With all due respect for the three municipalities mentioned above, it was a rather terse statement, given the more general stakes and the issue of the electoral health of the Five Star Movement.

There was bitterness and even bewilderment among the M5S. One wondered why the leader Giuseppe Conte had not yet decided to make a statement, leaving elected and registered members to face the fact that the Five Star Movement lost the two major cities it ran (Rome and Turin – but this had already happened in the first round, two weeks ago), and has been left empty-handed in all the twenty regional capitals that went to the polls.

Even further humiliation came after the runoffs: the M5S lost Cattolica, another municipality in which it had prevailed five years before. And despite the flop of Enrico Michetti in Rome, the M5S managed to lose to the center-right in the “Delle Torri” municipality in Rome. This was the suburban outpost of the M5S, symbolic heir to the triumph in this part of the city that earned Virginia Raggi the Capitol in a 2016 that now seems very distant.

Then, Conte decided to comment via Facebook. He focused his analysis on abstentionism, the “true protagonist of this round of ballots, a fact that should make us think and should alarm all political forces.”

He raised the need for internal reorganization: “The Five Star Movement has a duty to give an answer to those who no longer believe in politics as a solution,” he says. “There is little to talk about and much to do. Starting from our immediate reorganization, from our renewed ability to respond to the territories, to the heart of our country.”

“We must start again from the citizens,” added MP Stefano Buffagni. “We must start again from listening, from dialogue, because we have to understand the reasons behind disappointments, tensions and conflicts. As the M5S, we must reflect and start again in full support of Giuseppe Conte to claim the good things we’ve done in government.”

Conte guarantees that the M5S will be in opposition in Rome, Turin and Trieste, while recalling the cases where it has “contributed to the victory of a wide alliance, with the consequence that we will be responsibly involved in the respective city governments.”

“Now we will help the new mayor, starting from the good things done in the previous five years by the M5S,” says Roberta Lombardi about the relationship with the new Roman administration. Although, she points out, “the purpose of the new M5S Rome, following Conte’s reorganization, must be to bring the Romans to the polls in the next round.”

But the expectations of the parliamentarians hinged precisely on this “reorganization,” who trusted in the new course and are expecting a change in fortunes. At this point, Conte has no more excuses: he has to stop delaying, communicate the names of the team he has chosen to manage the transition of the Five Stars and lend his hand to the territorial reorganization.

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