Report. Five Stars’ first ‘congress’ ended without major divisions, but they avoided the topic of alliances or double mandates (forbidden under M5S orthodoxy).

Five Star organizers declare unity after the movement’s first summit

“It seemed impossible, but we did it,” is the message coming from the Five Star Movement the day after the closing of the States General of the party. The organizers claim to have succeeded in running the first “congress” without any disuniting conflicts, avoiding any score settling but at the same time putting the differences that run through the M5S on the table. This despite the break with Davide Casaleggio, who on Saturday morning, at the beginning of the proceedings, took a stand to call for more transparency and respect for the rules.

The first paradox of this story is that the break between the manager of the Rousseau platform and the “Romans” who are sitting in parliament and at the Chigi Palace happened as a result of putting into practice the method of Gianroberto Casaleggio himself: allowing the base to fully participate, letting everyone speak during days of sometimes-exhausting debate, first on the local, then on the national level, and gradually putting together the final documents while avoiding the issues deemed to be divisive.

This has also led to shying away from certain issues. It didn’t take long, for example, to understand that it wasn’t the right time to touch the issue of two election mandates for Italian and European regional councilors and parliamentarians. Even on alliances, the lowest common denominator between the elected and the activists disappointed those who were calling for “structural” decisions to be made. Agreements with other political forces are envisioned, but subject to an understanding at the level of the program. This already leaves room for differences in interpretation. For Alessandro Di Battista, for example, this is tantamount to saying that the M5S “will run all by itself in the 2023 general election.”

In his speech introducing the debate on Sunday, Giuseppe Conte offered the expected support to those who are “governing” the M5S, speaking clearly about the evolution that has become necessary in recent times. The Prime Minister said that he often spoke with “Beppe,” and expressed his regret for not having had the opportunity to talk with Gianroberto Casaleggio. He made no reference to Davide. Conte is, at this moment, the only one who is managing to get the support of all the party’s elected, first of all deputies and senators, and keep Luigi Di Maio and Roberto Fico together, who have not really been on the same side in the past (speaking before the States General, the President of the Chamber pointed out that he took the minority positions against the excessive simplification of messages and the primacy of propaganda).

Di Battista is still not entirely on the same page—on Monday, on Facebook, he reaffirmed his stance on conflicts of interest, two mandates and autonomy from the PD to run in elections under the Five Star logo. He listed the same positions in his speech on Sunday, interestingly pointing out that three of them are particularly essential—which means that perhaps there is room for negotiation. “I didn’t speak in a personal capacity yesterday, but I brought with me the voice of thousands of members who voted for me,” Di Battista said, resonating with those who protested because the data about the number of votes was not made public (including Davide Casaleggio).

But the notary who managed the voting process has stated that the envelope containing the document with the number of votes for each candidate is sealed: nobody in the M5S knows those numbers. Moreover, the leaders expressed their position: “Whatever that outcome was, one must be clear about what was being voted on: the members expressed an opinion on who should speak, they said who they wanted to listen to. And this is not automatically equivalent to a statement of approval.”

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