Five Stars of Change: The Transformation of Italian Protest Publics Through Grillo’s Blog

  • Giuseppe MastruzzoEmail author
Part of the Societies and Political Orders in Transition book series (SOCPOT)


In 2005, the “Blog di Beppe Grillo”, born on a suggestion by Gianroberto Casaleggio, starts as a receptor and incubator of protest publics in Italy. In this article, I will explore the reasons why the initially “horizontal” protest publics that gather around Grillo’s blog gradually metamorphose into a movement party (“MoVimento 5 Stelle”) with a somehow hierarchical directing attitude. Also, I will reflect on the reasons why once founded the MoVimento adds to its first goal of incubating protest publics the objective of gaining seats in local and national assemblies.

I will show how, once locally in power, the Five Star Movement finds it difficult to address in practice the driving issues of those protest publics that provided the MoVimento with its first electoral basis and a political programme (indeed, its 2009 “five stars”, or founding issues). Accordingly, I will point out that, once in power, sometimes Five Star representatives do not succeed in acting in discontinuity with the policy of previous administrations they were earlier protesting against.

I will propose that a priority in today’s analysis is to explore the reasons why and the ways in which in recent years the largest protest publics in the European Union have transformed themselves into more organised political forces. I will suggest that as a result of the expansion of the MoVimento within the Italian society and political scene, the space for the birth of new protest publics appears considerably reduced today—which is perhaps true in other European countries too. I will offer as a conclusion that the institutional and political transformation of the MoVimento and of recent social movements in other countries has brought about the necessity to revive the space in Italy and beyond for new forms of democratic participation that protest publics often bring about.


Direct democracy Elite vs people Five stars Institutionalisation Movement parties Participation Populism Protest publics Web and democracy 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.International University College of TurinTurinItaly

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