In 2009 Beppe Grillo, a well-known Italian comedian, established the Five Star Movement with the aim of sending a handful of citizens to municipal councils to act as the watchdog of a professional political class often perceived as corrupt and self-interested. However, in the Italian general elections of February 2013, despite still largely being considered a small protest movement, the party gained the undisputed role of leading political actor gaining just under 9 million votes and sending 163 Deputies and Senators to the Italian parliament. The birth and rapid rise of the Five Star Movement represents an electoral earthquake with no parallels in Italy and the whole of post-1945 Western Europe and a phenomenon likely to shape the Italian political scene for many years to come. Drawing on an extensive array of data and face-to-face interviews, this volume offers an empirically grounded explanation of the surprising electoral success of the Five Star Movement and presents a realistic picture of this party in its manifold aspects: organisational structure, communication style, linkages with civil society, ideological nature and positioning in the Italian political system.
’The Five-Star Movement is one of the most interesting political phenomena in contemporary Europe. Filippo Tronconi has put together a fine volume that looks in detail at the factors underpinning the remarkable success of this movement. It is essential reading not only for those interested in Italy, but for all students of party politics.’ Duncan McDonnell, Griffith University, Australia ’The Five Star Movement of Beppe Grillo was the great surprise of the 2013 elections in Italy. Understanding what kind of "political animal" it is, and what its future role in Italian politics will be is a major puzzle for Italy watchers. The book edited by Filippo Tronconi is the best guide so far for anyone seriously interested in understanding this new phenomenon.’ Maurizio Cotta, University of Siena, Italy '… is there something so special about M5S (Movimento 5 Stelle) that accounts for its unprecedented success? Using a wide range of research tools the contributors to this volume offer a comprehensive approach to the party, describing and often deconstructing the characteristics and paradoxes that account for its unexpected popularity that could eventually determine its future political viability. … a comprehensible guide to the rise of the M5S and an essential reading for those interested not only in Italian politics, but also in anti-system, Euro-sceptic and populist movements in Europe.' LSE Review of Books