Former Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has agreed to lead the revival of the Five Star Movement, becoming the de facto leader of the once anti-establishment party as it struggles to find a new identity.
“Giuseppe Conte has accepted the invitation to develop a refoundation project with the Five Star Movement,” he said in a message posted Sunday on his official Facebook account after a meeting between Conte and leaders, including the former comedian Beppe Grillo.
Five Star, the largest group in Italy’s parliament, came to power in 2018, after winning 32.7% of the vote in a nationwide election, but its support has steadily declined and it is now polled at around 15%.
After denouncing the establishment and promising to revolutionize mainstream politics, Five Star disappointed some of its constituents by entering a coalition government, first with the far-right League, then with the Democratic Party (PD) of center-left. Over the years, the party has backed down on many of its main campaign promises.
The decision last month to support the newly formed government led by former European Central Bank president Mario Draghi further undermined its anti-establishment credentials.
The movement, which started as an online protest group for those who felt left behind by globalization, was divided over whether to support Draghi’s new government.
“It is a crucial challenge for the movement, a complete restructuring to transform it into a political force increasingly open to civil society, capable of becoming a central reference in the current political framework and of playing a decisive role between now and 2050, ”said Five Star.
Although not affiliated with any political party, Conte, a law professor hitherto unknown to Italian politics, has always been close to Five Star. He was torn from obscurity to lead a coalition of Five Star and the League in 2018 and when the government collapsed a year later, he renamed himself a centrist and was appointed head of a coalition between the now moderate Five Star and the center-left. PD.
Conte was forced to resign as prime minister last month amid the political instability that ravaged Italy as it battled both the Covid-19 pandemic and a brutal recession that led the appointment of Draghi as the new Prime Minister.
As the de facto leader of Five Star, he is expected to oversee his move to more moderate positions and strengthen ties with the center-left, with the aim of forming a credible alternative to the Italian right, which leads the polls ahead of the national de 2023. election.
Conte is still popular with voters who praised his handling of the early phase of the pandemic and is seen as an asset to Five Star. He is expected to formally replace Vito Crimi, the movement’s acting leader, in the coming days.
“They have been declaring us dead for years, but they are wrong. The Five Star Movement is not only alive, the movement is here and now and will write the future of this country ”, wrote on Facebook Luigi Di Maio, Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs and one of the five star legislators most. in sight.