Italy: Di Maio resigns as Five Star leader

Shortly before two regional elections in Italy Luigi Di Maio has resigned as leader of the Five Star Movement. He intends to remain in his post as foreign minister, however. European media discuss the reasons for the surprise move and examine the repercussions for the governing coalition in Rome.

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La Repubblica (IT) /

Resignation as a precaution

The fear of a debacle in the regional elections on Sunday seems to have been great, muses La Repubblica:

“Like a dark omen, Di Maio's resignation comes almost on the eve of the elections in Emilia Romagna and Calabria. It's a rather unusual move, because the goodbyes usually come after a defeat, not before it. But in this case the Five Star Movement seems so battered that defeat is considered a certainty - which is why Di Maio prefers to anticipate the events. Perhaps not least in the hope of rousing voters from their apathy with the promise of a general, rather mysterious renewal of the movement.”

Corriere del Ticino (CH) /

Coalition in Rome threatens to collapse

Corriere del Ticino worries that the Italian government could collapse like a house of cards after di Maio's cowardly manoeuvre:

“Luigi Di Maio says that he will withdraw from the movement's leadership but will continue the fight despite being stabbed in the back by someone from his own ranks. Critics, however, say that the young party leader has given up the helm because of diminishing consensus within the Five Star Movement and next Sunday's regional elections, so he doesn't have to answer for the party's looming, umpteenth failure. But with such a manifestly unstable coalition partner, the entire government is at risk of crashing to the ground.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

Too arbitrary to govern

The fate of Di Maio stands for that of the entire Five Star Movement, comments the Süddeutsche Zeitung:

“Having risen in opposition to the establishment, professional politicians and the 'elites', Five Stars is now in danger of burning out like a meteor shower. Its ideological arbitrariness, a strength when it was in the opposition, has become a weakness in government. First it formed a coalition with the right, then with the left; sometimes it rails against Europe, then it appeases it; sometimes it stands up for refugees, other times it's against them. The voters are turning away. And 33-year-old Di Maio, who praised his inexperience as a virtue, now sees how quickly a politician ages in Italy today.”

Blog EUROPP (GB) /

Self-inflicted chaos

Structural problems within the party and the coalition with the PD were the nails in the coffin for Di Maio and his party, political scientist Mattia Zulianello comments on Blog Europp:

“The absence of mechanisms to appropriately absorb internal conflict made it impossible to effectively explain to voters the rationale, expectations and benefits of its strategic repositioning. The M5S failed to articulate a coherent and consistent message, something that was made exceptionally difficult by the organisational chaos it operated under. ... The outcome is what we see today: a party that lacks a clear direction, is plagued by internal conflict, and which has experienced a string of electoral debacles.”