Beppe Grillo is back, and he seems to be serious. After months outside the spotlight, he is back in Rome to take the Five Star Movement into a new phase. “Who does the Five Star Movement answer to?” must have been the question asked by Mario Draghi, charged to form the new government, on Wednesday, on the occasion of his institutional meeting with Roberto Fico.
At that point, the president of the Chamber, who is more aware than others of the power vacuum within the M5S, arranged a phone call between Draghi and Grillo that gave the final push for the reversal of the political line of the Five Stars: to go and hear what the former banker has to say, propose some program points and prepare to convince the majority of Grillo’s parliamentarians to stay inside the majority and support him.
On Saturday, the M5S co-founder led the M5S delegation at the consultations. Together with him were the two group leaders, Ettore Licheri and Davide Crippa, the deputy M5S group leader in the Chamber, Riccardo Ricciardi, and the vice-president of the Senate, Paola Taverna. Grillo was already in Rome on Friday. On Saturday morning, before meeting Draghi for consultations, he was also set to see Luigi Di Maio, Riccardo Fraccaro, Alfonso Bonafede and Stefano Patuanelli.
They are all an expression of the governmental form of the M5S, which almost immediately sought a way to justify dialogue with the new possible majority. And they consider Grillo’s blessing the best means to allow M5S to be the only political force that has been part of three different government majorities in this legislature.
“I consider Grillo’s presence essential,” says the outgoing undersecretary for the economy, Alessio Villarosa. “He represents the most authoritative representative of the M5S, and I believe he is the best personality to ensure the right dialogue.”
“Beppe has founded a revolutionary political project,” says the chairman of the Constitutional Affairs Committee of the Chamber, Giuseppe Brescia. “The projected new government will have the same ability to break the mold as we do. Our ‘no’ to a technocratic government is clear. We need a political government. We will listen and decide. Together.”
A somewhat discordant note was struck by the position of the Mayor of Rome, Virginia Raggi, who was among the first to hope for a direct dialogue with Draghi. Before Conte fell, Raggi was playing the card of reforming the powers and the funding structure of the capital in order to have an institutional mission to accomplish on behalf of the citizens in view of the campaign for the Roman elections. Of course, this plan could continue in collaboration with Draghi, and is contributing to fueling the debate among Grillo’s followers. Which not only concerns the government, but also touches the issue of internal organization.
The vote on the amendments to the party’s statute that establish the figure of the “collegial leader” was announced for this week. But among the most recent news was the possible willingness by Giuseppe Conte himself to play a leadership role, which would have made some people toy with the idea of returning to the single figure of the “political leader.”
Until Friday, Davide Casaleggio was also in Rome. Together with his presence, the possibility that the decision about joining Draghi would pass through a vote on the Rousseau platform was being considered in M5S circles.
“We have always done it before every new government and before every delicate decision,” said Villarosa, joining his voice to the request made by other parliamentarians. In other times, this step would have been almost automatic.
This time is a bit different, because the operator of the platform has been sitting at home for months in near-isolation from the rest of the party, and because the internal polarization around the decision could turn the vote into a kind of internal referendum, one of those choices considered “divisive” that the party’s States General in November wanted to avoid at all costs.
In recent days, Di Maio said that the final decision will be up to the parliamentary groups, counting that the decision would be bulletproof among the party’s elected. However, there are still some pockets of resistance there. Such as Jessica Costanzo, the Piedmontese deputy who made a quip about the decisions being taken by her colleagues: “From a ‘battle of words’ we have gone to ‘a battle for [government] seats’.”
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