How Italy’s Five Star Movement wants to change EU politics

Italy's Five Star Movement (M5S) wants to team up with like-minded populist parties and form a new grouping within the European Parliament to take power from the traditional left and right, its leader said Sunday.

How Italy's Five Star Movement wants to change EU politics
Five Star leader and Italian deputy Prime Minister Luigi di Maio speaking during the European election campaign in Waraw, Poland. Photo: Janek SKARZYNSKI/AFP

“I don't think that the traditional parties have the potential to attain an absolute majority in the European Parliament,” M5S chief Luigi di Maio said.

Speaking at an event in Warsaw with Poland's populist Kukiz'15 movement and Croatia's Zivi Zid (Human Shield) party, Di Maio said the traditional differentiation between politics of the “left” and “right” was “outdated”.

READ ALSO: Luigi Di Maio, the face of Italian populism

“I prefer to distinguish between good and bad ideas,” said Di Maio, who is also Italy's deputy prime minister.

He said his party was open to collaboration with any political movement “that comes up with good proposals.” 


Di Maio's Polish host, the punk-rocker-turned-politician Pawel Kukiz, said his party's slogan for the EU elections would be “Poland in Europe, Europe for Poland” and that the focus of his campaign would be the fight against the “ossified elites”.

“We cannot accept that Europe is in the hands of the European Commission, which in reality serves the interests of two states, a sort of marriage between (French President Emmanuel) Macron and (German Chancellor) Angela Merkel,” he said.

Analysts have said that Italy's populist government — comprised of Di Maio's M5S and the far-right League — is on its last legs, with the two parties split over various issues since taking power last June.


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Italy’s government to continue sending weapons to Ukraine in 2023

Italy's new government issued a decree on Thursday to continue sending weapons to Ukraine through 2023, continuing the previous administration's policy of support to Kyiv.

Italy's government to continue sending weapons to Ukraine in 2023

The decree extends to December 31, 2023 an existing authorisation for “the transfer of military means, materials and equipment to the government authorities of Ukraine,” according to a government statement.

Since taking office in October, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has repeatedly voiced her support for Kyiv while underlying the importance of the Atlantic alliance.

In her first speech to parliament, the leader of the Brothers of Italy party pledged to “continue to be a reliable partner of NATO in supporting Ukraine.”

Her predecessor Mario Draghi was a staunch supporter of Kyiv, but the issue of sending arms to Ukraine split the biggest party in parliament during his coalition government, the Five Star Movement.

That friction led to the early elections that brought Meloni to power.

Parliament now has 60 days to vote the decree into law.

READ ALSO: Outcry in Italy after Berlusconi defends Putin’s invasion of Ukraine

Despite Meloni’s efforts to reassure her Western allies of Italy’s support for the EU’s and NATO’s Ukraine strategy, including sanctions on Russia, the close ties to Russia of her two coalition partners have come under scrutiny.

Both Matteo Salvini of the League party and former premier Silvio Berlusconi, who leads Forza Italia, have long enjoyed warm relations with Russia.

In October, an audio tape of Berlusconi was leaked to the media in which the former premier described how he had received a birthday present of vodka from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In the tape, he also expressed concerns about sending weapons and cash to Kyiv and appeared to blame the war on Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky.

Berlusconi later issued a statement saying his personal position on Ukraine “does not deviate” from that of Italy and the EU.

Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, Salvini, too, has come under fire for his relations with Moscow, including a report that he dined with Russia’s ambassador to Rome just days after that country’s invasion of Ukraine.

Salvini, who has criticised EU sanctions as ineffective, has long admired Putin, even wearing T-shirts emblazoned with the Russian leader’s face.