Analysis. Gianroberto Casaleggio’s son is now distancing himself from the comic founder of the movement that disrupted Italian politics. ‘Party members should decide the direction ... for the Five Star Movement.’

The Casaleggio-Grillo alliance is breaking up over party leadership

“The party members should decide the direction and what is important for the Five Star Movement,” said Davide Casaleggio, taking a stand in the ongoing internal debate in the M5S.

Others with different opinions include some ministers who, due to the emergency situation, would prefer to freeze the party’s internal processes and entrust running the M5S to a body made up of the party’s establishment in order to focus on government action, or Alessandro Di Battista, who, together with others, is asking for a regular “party congress” to promote new figures and issues, overriding government formulas and internal appointments.

Instead, Casaleggio took the floor to dust off the Five Star myth of “direct democracy,” even if at this stage, there is little space left for his Rousseau platform, abandoned by members and little loved by the party’s elected politicians.

With this position, Casaleggio stands opposed to Beppe Grillo, who doesn’t think this is the time for revolutions, neither regarding the parliamentary majority nor in terms of the party’s internal hierarchies. “I won’t go into the merits of particular candidacies or particular people,” Gianroberto Casaleggio’s son told Fanpage. “But Alessandro [di Battista] has always given so much to the Five Star Movement. He will see how he will want to give his support in the future.”

The Undersecretary to the Prime Minister’s Office, Stefano Buffagni, gave an indirect answer, announcing that the national assembly of the M5S, scheduled months ago and then postponed due to COVID, will be held in October—that is, after the administrative and referendum elections. By that time—the “governmental” branch of the M5S hopes—the situation in the government majority should be less confusing. Will this event be the occasion for selecting a new “political leader” as well? “Yes, if the conditions are met,” Buffagni said. “But if a committee is selected to fill that role, which I have called a ‘shared political office,’ that would be good.”

Casaleggio spoke on the occasion of the presentation of a dossier on the economic restart elaborated by the NGO that bears his father’s name, and which is still working on drawing up futurological scenarios that recall the latter’s esoteric prophecies. Such as, for example: “In 2054, when the cost of energy reaches zero, everyone will decide when they want to sleep.” When asked about this, Casaleggio added: “I talk to Beppe Grillo regularly. We talked about this plan last time.”

The project in question calls for “the digitization of the country, a digital identity for everyone and ultra-wide bandwidth to allow Italian companies to be competitive on the market. The country is lagging behind on these issues.” In recent days, Grillo himself, writing on his personal blog—now formally distinct from the M5S blog—had proposed that the Cassa Depositi e Prestiti public lending institution should commit itself to the construction of a single national network infrastructure. His idea got doubtful reactions among the government majority, while Giuseppe Conte expressed “interest.”

There is talk about digitization and scenarios are being drawn up, but it’s still not quite clear what the different roles might be between the M5S, the Rousseau platform, the Associazione Casaleggio NGO and, most importantly, the Casaleggio Associati IT firm.

In this context, it’s rather striking that on Tuesday, Alessandro Di Battista, taking his cue from the arrest of Emilio Fede, shared a post in which he committed to fight for “a very tough law against conflicts of interest.”

Meanwhile, among the parliamentarians, the long string of goodbyes to the M5S has resumed. In the Chamber of Deputies, the MP for Taranto, Alessandra Ermellino, left the party, announcing that she would be part of the Mixed Group from now on, with the formula that has become customary on such occasions: “I am not leaving the M5S, but I am leaving those people who have hijacked a project, betraying the hopes of 11 million citizens.”

In the Senate, Senator Alessandra Riccardi passed over to the Lega. She had long been in disagreement with the M5S, and had voted against the trial of Matteo Salvini in the Open Arms case, in the vote to strip him of immunity in the Senate. It is rumored that many are late with the “restitutions,” the public initiative by the M5S to donate part of their salaries to the Italian public debt fund, and that other disciplinary measures could be taken.

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