Analysis. Vittoria Baldino, deputy group leader in the Chamber: ‘Giuseppe Conte is and remains firmly at the head of the M5S.’

written by Giuliano Santoro

Topic Italy

June 15, 2024

Officially, the date for Tuesday’s joint meeting of the Five Star Movement’s parliamentary groups had been set for some time. It was the periodic meeting of the party’s elected officials, where Giuseppe Conte would take stock of the situation and set the main items on the agenda.

However, this time the event came in the aftermath of the European election results that offered a clear picture of the party’s electoral difficulties and forced the need for what the leader himself called “an internal reflection.” This turned the meeting into a golden opportunity. Still, no one would venture to say that the former prime minister’s leadership would be put in question.

For instance, Elisa Pirro, the M5S group leader in the Senate Budget Committee, said that the agenda would be centered on the need to “get better and further demonstrate to the citizens that we’re working exclusively in their interest. But Giuseppe Conte’s leadership is not in question.”

“Giuseppe Conte is and remains firmly at the head of the M5S,” said Vittoria Baldino, deputy group leader in the Chamber, while admitting that “the result of these elections bestows on us the obligation to conduct a deep internal reflection. A serious, authentic, constructive one, and useful for improving the effectiveness of our political activity.”

“The President” (a term that refers exclusively to one person in M5S circles) told his people that a “mature political force” should take up the responsibility “to be self-critical and improve what isn’t working,” and launched the initiative of a “constituent assembly” open to elected officials, local leaders and regular party members. He also conceded there was also a need to set up “more efficient rules.” When hearing these words, everyone was thinking of one thing: getting rid of the two-term limit for elected officials.

Those who preach a return to the party’s past forget (or try to sweep under the rug) that 90 percent of the leading figures from that highly mythologized past (the heady days when the Five Stars were the number one party in Italy) have turned to the “usual habits” of politicians even more than they accuse Conte of doing. The familiar faces from those times have either followed Luigi Di Maio in the adventure of his centrist list, joined Draghi’s list, and/or a great many have reinvented themselves as business consultants (to speak of the conflict of interest and revolving doors between public office and private interests, a topic dear to the early M5S).

The erasure of the last remaining line in the sand tying the party to its past could be a turning point. The founder of the M5S has always claimed that the two-term limit was an essential trait, and Conte himself took up the call and made use of that axe to clear away the political class that had been formed during the first two M5S legislatures. The grassroots and the few remaining former MPs in the M5S that are awaiting changes on this front are calling for exceptions that would allow experience to be put to use, as well as familiar faces. Some had been saying this under their breath even before Tuesday’s meeting of parliamentarians. Their complaint against the leader is, in effect, that the campaign for these European elections was fought with ineffective weapons and at this point, grassroots involvement has been reduced to a symbolic fetish. The eight newly-elected MEPs are all either former MPs or bigwigs co-opted by the top leadership and put at the top of the lists: in this respect, too, the myth of the party “lottery” that would raise up “the people” into the halls of power is dead.

At the same time, while they admit Conte may have made some mistakes, his people are still saying that by putting himself at center stage, he has prevented the M5S from sliding toward the death of the dream, like the many other forces that suddenly blew up to fill the spaces left vacant by the crisis of representation and then vanished just as quickly. The party can start again from this 10 percent result, and it’s not giving up on the prospect of the wider “progressive camp,” as the signals from Via Campo Marzio on Sunday evening show. However, now there is a significant difference: the M5S cannot aspire to take the leading role from Elly Schlein’s PD, which means the type of dialogue and its tone must be different. And, perhaps, the M5S no longer has the clout to draw red lines towards the center, also seeing that Calenda and Renzi have emerged even weaker from the European vote.

In all this, there remains the potentially unpredictable variable, the deus ex machina who keeps the proverbial nuclear button on the desk of his sea-view villa in Bibbona: Beppe Grillo himself. Will he decide to re-enter the field? And to whom would he entrust the fate of M5S? Certainly, Conte is anticipating all these possibilities, and he intends to head the self-reform process himself.

Your weekly briefing of progressive news.

Giuliano Santoro

QOSHE - M5S, Conte launch the ‘constituent assembly’ - Giuliano Santoro
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M5S, Conte launch the ‘constituent assembly’

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15.06.2024

Analysis. Vittoria Baldino, deputy group leader in the Chamber: ‘Giuseppe Conte is and remains firmly at the head of the M5S.’

written by Giuliano Santoro

Topic Italy

June 15, 2024

Officially, the date for Tuesday’s joint meeting of the Five Star Movement’s parliamentary groups had been set for some time. It was the periodic meeting of the party’s elected officials, where Giuseppe Conte would take stock of the situation and set the main items on the agenda.

However, this time the event came in the aftermath of the European election results that offered a clear picture of the party’s electoral difficulties and forced the need for what the leader himself called “an internal reflection.” This turned the meeting into a golden opportunity. Still, no one would venture to say that the former prime minister’s leadership would be put in question.

For instance, Elisa Pirro, the M5S group leader in the Senate Budget Committee, said that the agenda would be centered on the need to “get better and further demonstrate to the citizens that we’re working exclusively in their interest. But Giuseppe Conte’s leadership is not in question.”

“Giuseppe Conte is and remains firmly at the head of the M5S,” said Vittoria Baldino,........

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