M5S: The Five Star Movement. Who Are They?

Considered to be populist, anti-establishment, environmentalist, anti-globalist, and Eurosceptic by both its supporters and the opposition, the Five Star Movement in Italy can be credited as the spearhead for former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s resignation. Insisting it’s not a regular political party but a movement, M5S was founded in 2009 by a comic-turned-politician and an internet strategist. The “five stars” are a reference to five key issues for the party: public water, sustainable transport, sustainable development, right to internet access, and environmentalism, although they advocate for much more.

Beppe Grillo has proclaimed himself the “Political Head” of the movement. The former Italian comedian who famously attacked high-ranking politicians during his acts was banished from publicly owned television channels in the 1980s. He and Gianroberto Casaleggio, who died in April of 2016, created a party that used the power of the internet to create a new type of movement. Emphasizing that the new movement doesn’t fit neatly into the traditional left-right political spectrum, M5S is now the most popular opposition party in Italy.