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POLITICS

Italy’s Five Star Movement votes to keep Luigi Di Maio as leader

Italy's anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) voted Thursday to keep leader Luigi Di Maio after the party's flop in European elections.

Italy's Five Star Movement votes to keep Luigi Di Maio as leader
Luigi Di Maio called - and won - a vote of confidence in himself. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

Some 80 percent of those who voted on the M5S online platform said he should stay on, according to the M5S official blog.

The M5S rules in coalition with Matteo Salvini's hard-right League, which won a resounding victory in Italy on the back of an “Italians First” campaign, dealing a blow to the M5S and threatening the stability of the government.

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“You decide. I am asking to put my role as party leader to the vote,” Di Maio wrote on the blog as called the vote on Wednesday. “If the Movement renews its faith in me, we'll get to work… with even more commitment and dedication.”

Some 44,850 members voted to save Di Maio's job, compared to around 11,300 who wanted him gone.

The EU vote results confirmed the reversal of fortunes of the ruling parties, with M5S — which got 32.5 percent at the general election — taking just 17 percent on Sunday compared to the League's 34 percent.

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The M5S chief had been criticised by part of the Movement's base for taking on too much with his three roles as party head, deputy prime minister and economic development, labour and social policies minister.

Di Maio blamed the M5S's poor performance on low voter turnout, as well as a mud-slinging campaign by the League against which it was slow to retaliate.

He received a show of support on Wednesday from comedian Beppe Grillo, the M5S co-founder, who remains an influential figure within the Movement despite withdrawing from the political scene to focus on his stand-up career.

A new direction for Italy's Five Star Movement? Beppe Grillo distances himself from the party he founded
Beppe Grillo (L) and the party's new leader Luigi Di Maio with the Five Star Movement's new logo. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

“The Movement has suffered a defeat and must react,” he conceded on his website. However, he said he was “wounded” by those M5S members who were acting “as if it were a drop in the sales of a multinational company”.

“Luigi has not committed any crime, he is not involved in any scandal. He must carry on the fight,” Grillo said. 

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POLITICS

Why Italy’s government is angry about a ski resort changing its name

The world-famous Italian ski resort of Cervinia reverted to its pre-Fascist name of Le Breuil on Thursday, sparking an outcry from members of the nationalist government.

Why Italy's government is angry about a ski resort changing its name

From Thursday, November 30th, the village in Val d’Aosta known worldwide as Cervinia will instead be called Le Breuil.

“Cervinia will not disappear in the collective memory. It is one of the most famous ski resorts in the Alps,” Jean-Antoine Maquignaz, a former mayor who began the process for the recognition of historical names in the region, told the Turin edition of Corriere della Sera.

But, he said, “the culture of the area must be taken into account. And the names must be preserved, as well as their long history.”

Le Breuil was changed to Cervinia by Benito Mussolini’s Fascist regime in 1934 under a drive to remove all foreign-sounding place names.

READ ALSO: Italy’s culture minister slams foreign words in Italian language… by using foreign words

Many comuni (municipalities) in the Alpine region of Val d’Aosta, which borders France and Switzerland, had their French names replaced with Italian ones.

The process of changing the town’s name back began in 2011, and Valle d’Aosta’s regional president, Renzo Testolin, signed a decree last September which formalised the switch.

But Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s far-right Brothers of Italy (FdI) party on Thursday issued an angry statement which said the name change was “evidently the result of ideology, out of time and place,” news agency Ansa reported.

The party said ministers would meet with regional authorities to “resolve the problem” in the coming days.

FdI Deputy House Whip Fabio Rampelli said the government must get the name changed back, describing the move as “anti-Italian” and claiming it went against the Constitution.

READ ALSO: ‘Anglomania’: Why Italy’s government wants to restrict use of English words

Tourism minister Daniela Santanchè urged the local council to “think again” saying that the winter tourism industry would be “heavily penalised by dropping a brand name that is known across the world”.

But the 700 or so local residents may have more immediate concerns: the name change is expected to result in a mountain of bureaucracy, as inhabitants will now need to update their identity cards, birth certificates, and land registry data, Corriere reported.

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