Their eyes are raised to heaven. Not to “watch the stars,” as the Dantesque M5S slogan says, but to peer into the giant screen of the Marconi neighborhood terrace which houses the election committee of Virginia Raggi.
The first figures are unequivocal: Raggi wins, unbeatable. From the street, a few dozen supporters are mixed up with a group of tourists leaving the hotel across the street. They rejoice in moderation, almost shyly.
“It is a victory we expected,” says a guy in his 30s casually as he unrolls a banner for the use of cameras.
“Let’s rebuild a sense of community,” said Raggi during the days of the election campaign in one of her slogans (indeed not too original). But the icy celebrations say that the millennial, dogmatic and a little sectarian trend of the Five Star Movement has been chewed and digested by this city. It was filtered by Romans’ disenchantment and cynicism.
It becomes something else, it turns into a sarcastic investment, a disillusioned choice. The Romans are watching, with a kind of detached empathy that has little to do with the division between good and evil, between “people” and “caste” of the first phase of Grillism.
“Do not call us grillini anymore,” they say in front of the Hotel dell’Ostiense. Beyond the semantics, the image of the conspiratorial “grillino” gets tarnished on this late spring evening. With the colorful characters stepped aside, the Five Star Movement appeared more porous during the weeks of the campaign, more nebulous and less of a fierce block. Like the city that it is getting ready to manage. Before the resounding success of the 2013 political elections, the M5S won over Parma, another city with unbalanced budgets.
That victory represented a leap in the political environment and changed the way the “pentastellati” were perceived. It evolved from a protest vote to an administrative option, a civic resource that grew from the ashes of the parties. Now, Rome’s victory represents a step further. It is a victory that alludes, as everyone in Raggi’s committee says and the MPs were talking about in the elections for weeks, the national breakthrough, which is a prelude to the political challenge. “We are ready to govern,” says bluntly a beaming Di Maio to their followers.
The non-party that has been called “a ballots machine” capable of raking consensus to the left and right of its opponents, has become something greater. It does so by bypassing Beppe Grillo’s figure, who appeared only at the last minute, to celebrate at night with the crowd in a Roman square that has been waiting for days. It was to be the Piazza del Popolo, then there are rumors it was to be at the Capitol. In the end everyone went to Schuster Park, always in Ostiense.
“The climate is positive, beyond the results,” says Luigi Di Maio to reporters shortly before the exit polls. The M5S takes over Rome in a bit of a resigned way, with a low-profile revolution that was leaning on the new leaders’ charisma.
This is the ambivalent meaning of the team that immediately flanked Raggi and has been interpreted by critics as a “commission assigning group” and by the strategists as an investment for the upcoming events at the national level. Raggi, and with her the complete M5S, needed to win, it would have been hard to swallow a defeat in a largely discredited political scene, a retreat into a battlefield already decommissioned, and without significant armies.
She never dramatized. She presented the “moderate” face, which in fact represents the feeling of revenge against the old politics, but her words (a bit paradoxically) tend to reassure.
Despite the controversy about signing the “loyalty contract” and the fact that Raggi is subject to the directions from others, Casaleggio Associati has been unusually quiet. The mysterious offices of the Milanese weavers did not send any visible signals. Perhaps they have had some role in the (uncertain) construction of the board (by the way, together with the first results, there would be an admission of the staff that the top budget adviser will be Councillor Marcello Minenna, Consob manager).
But this is also one of the unknowns: the men, a little spruced up by David Casaleggio’s communication, heir to Gianroberto, are unlikely to really control everything that happens in a city and in the corridors of power of a capital city where no one really controls everything.
Not even the pentastellata spaceship that landed last night in a sleepy neighborhood of a city in search of guidance.