How democratic is the Five Star Movement?

In an online vote to be held this weekend, the Italian protest party Movimento Cinque Stelle (M5S) will select its candidate for prime minister in the parliamentary elections next spring. Observers expect Luigi Di Maio to win the race: he is widely regarded as the political heir to founder Beppe Grillo, while little is known about his rivals. Italy's media are incensed at what they see as a pre-arranged vote.

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La Repubblica (IT) /

This primary is a farce

The whole fuss over the primaries blatantly contradicts Movimento Cinque Stelle's noble promises, La Repubblica criticises:

“This is a self-destructive farce, a prefabricated primary that was aimed at electing Di Maio and setting a toy crown on his head. ... The movement claims to be grassroots, created by the people and representing an alternative to the politics of tired rituals and worn-out procedures. But it's exposing itself as incapable of following the internal, coherent rules of democracy that it never tires of preaching about to others.”

Huffington Post Italia (IT) /

Grillo seduces them all

The M5S primaries remind Huffington Post Italia of the elections in Romania under Ceaușescu:

“Not exactly a shining example of democracy. Nevertheless the members of M5S are prepared to accept all of Beppe Grillo's contorted manoeuvres and arbitrary decrees because with his charisma he still has the power to calm the tensions within the movement and cushion the disappointments. They aren't even bothered by the dire state Rome is in after a year and a half under M5S administration, although it's living proof of the party leadership's incompetence. Raise your hands, all those who - faced with the results of [Rome mayor] Virginia Raggi's policies and not allowing themselves to be blinded by Grillo's powers of seduction - still want to see Di Maio, born in 1986 and without the slightest experience in government, move into the [prime minister's residence] Palazzo Chigi.”