Five Star Movement: Grassroot Movement or an Institutionalized Party?

Political Parties
Southern Europe
Martin Mejstřík
Charles University in Prague
Martin Mejstřík
Charles University in Prague

The proposed paper is a qualitative interpretative case stady whose aim is to analyse the development and structural changes in the Italian populist Five Star Movement (M5S) in the period after the European Parliament Elections in 2014 including the campaign before the constitutional referendum in December 2016. The main goal is to analyse a shit in the party organization from original grassroot movement towards more institutionalized political actor with office-seeking behaviour using the theoretical framework of Kenneth Janda and his theory of institutionalization. The structural factors which caused this shift (role of the media, new electoral system, style of politics of Matteo Renzi, “going mainstream” in order to get more votes, less apparent political appeal of Grillo) will be examined. Question of direct and arbitrary control exercised by the movement's indisputable leader Beppe Grillo with regard to possible successors and internal fractions will be also discussed. The paper will work with the hypothesis that the Five Star Movement in order to maintain office-seeking behaviour and with an ambition to win the next election became closer to political establishment and that this appeal to moderate electorate is possible only by going through the process of institutionalization. In short terms the M5S became a serious player in a contest for the Italian government and to maintain that position, the Movement has to adopt a structure of a classical political party. A second and related goal is to identify how politicians in the Movement contributed to the change of course, and how they were able to assert their political view even when not being in alignment with the official position of Grillo. The question of cohesion and compactness of the movement will be also discussed.
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