Conte versus Grillo: power struggle in the M5S

In the ranks of Italy's largest governing party, Movimento 5 Stelle (the Five Star Movement or M5S for short), a battle for the party leadership has broken out between founder Beppe Grillo and Italy's ex-prime minister Giuseppe Conte, who joined the populist movement only this year. Grillo had initially wanted to make Conte leader. Now he has declared him unfit for the job.

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Avvenire (IT) /

No trace of coherence

The two opponents in this cockfight are more alike than they would ever admit, writes Avvenire:

“Grillo and Conte seem like two characters with the same defect: they think they can control Five Stars like patriarchs. On the one hand, the guffawing, visionary comedian, the demiurge who rose from nowhere to lead the strongest Italian party, who at the time called Giuseppe Conte 'the best possible prime minister', only to chase him away yesterday with biting words. ... On the other hand, the former 'people's advocate', the unknown man who became prime minister without ever having joined the M5S, who was able to first defend populism together with the [right-wing] Lega and then to fight it alongside the [social-democratic] Partito Democratico. ... In short, two men with complex personalities - not to say willing to stop at nothing to achieve their goals.”

La Repubblica (IT) /

Et tu, Brute?

No one likes having to hand over the reins to someone else, La Repubblica comments mockingly:

“There has never been a smooth handover in a political movement that revolves around the charisma of its leader. Patricide is the only possible method of succession. However it can happen, and indeed it happens quite often, that the leader has no intention of ending up like Caesar on the Ides of March. And instead of pulling the toga over his head to avoid witnessing Brutus' wicked betrayal, he begins to lash out at his attackers. So the bomb that Beppe Grillo dropped on Conte yesterday was predictable. Only the consequences are unforeseeable, both as regards the stability of the Draghi government and the political future of the former 'advocate of the people'.”