The M5S celebrates its congress

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The Estates-General of the M5S kicks-off tomorrow. Over the course of the weekend, the party’s congress is called to untangle the knots hanging over the future of the anti-establishment Movement after the internal troubles and electoral defeats of recent times.

Local and regional anticipatory meetings and the habitual vote on the Rousseau platform have defined the names of the 30 delegates who will participate in the final public debate in the presence of 8 thousand party members (about 4 percent of the total of the M5S). At the end of the two days, some proposals on programs and organization will be reached, which will then be submitted to a future vote on Rousseau.

Convened online due to health reasons and amid widespread disinterest, the meeting will have to answer an essential question that divides the “grillini” since the step backwards made by former political leader Luigi Di Maio in January 2020: who will have to take charge of leading and above all reviving the political creature founded by Beppe Grillo and Gianroberto Casaleggio? Will it be a single chief or another collective body?

On this point a battle is in progress, with M5S bigwigs aimed at confirming the hypothesis of a directorate, from which to exclude the leader of the hardliner faction, Alessandro Di Battista. The choice is not a mere ideological issue, but an unavoidable step to defend the pre-eminent place occupied by the 5Stars in the current political-institutional architecture of Italy thanks to the alliance with the leftwing Democratic Party (PD). Waiting to know, ca va sans dire, better times in the polls.

It’s really hard, in fact, to be able to perpetuate the ruling pact with the PD if the States-General were to sanction the revival of the populist soul of the M5S, which is openly hostile to the political force most present in government since the great crisis of 2011. After all, the issue of alliances will become increasingly crucial with the gradual return to a system dominated by the proportional rule: in this sense, the “splendid isolation” of 2013 and 2018, that prompted to excellent electoral results, is an option that is no longer viable. Hence the need to temper the hot spirits of the party, to maintain a more conciliatory stance towards possible allies and partners. Unless the M5S wanted to be relegated once again to a marginal role in the Italian political spectrum: a highly unlikely hypothesis – not to mention terribly painful – for a force that has literally become pivotal in the country’s political alchemies.

Another terrain of conflict concerns the bond of the two mandates: for the hardliners it is a sacred and therefore inviolable founding rule; for the moderates, on the contrary, a rule that can be abolished once and for all in the name of the full political maturation of the 5Stars. On this point, the distance between the two factions is truly remarkable and for this reason, thanks to the understandable difficulty in sanctioning the end of the symbolic constraint, it is probable that no vote will be held on the matter.

Last but not least, the crux of the relations between the M5S and Gianroberto Casaleggio, who manages the Rousseau platform, is no less delicate. Long at odds with the M5S parliamentary groups for the management of the association’s funding, the son of the co-founder went even further to the point of threatening to withdraw his support to the Movement in the event of its transformation into a party. Overall, the States-General will say a great deal about what the M5S has become more than ten years after its birth in Milan in October 2009 and if the ideological crisis that has exploded in recent months will be settled. Above all, it will have to establish whether in Italy’s future there is still room for the M5S’ political instances.