Can you tell us about the Beppe Grillo movement?
Beppe Grillo started off as a comedian and actor. Soon, his work became more political. Nowadays, he is an influential blogger and activist. He has spearheaded several national and international political campaigns.
For example, in 2007, he initiated the V-Day. The V stands for three Italian terms, that are 'vendetta', 'vengeance', and 'vaffanculo'. Loosely translated, it means 'F*** off'. During the V-Day celebrations, Beppe Grillo pointed out the names of two dozens Italian politicians who have criminal records. Most have been convicted because of corruption and tax evasion, but also abetting murder. Further, he petitioned for a Bill of Popular Initiative, aiming to remove members of the Italian parliament from their position if they hold a criminal record. The V-Day celebrations was joined by two million people.
In 2008, the V2-Day took place. This rally addressed the lacking freedom of the press. The Italian media is heavenly supported by government funds. Both rallies were a huge success! Many Internet scholars believe it to be among the first campaigns mobilized by social media and the use of blogs.
That is interesting! How did the movement proceed? Did it evolve to take actively part in politics?
Yes, we did indeed! During the V2-Day, Beppe Grillo presented the Liste a cinque stelle (Five-star electoral list). The five star stand for the standard of quality: environment, water, development, connectivity, and transportation. The stars form our agenda.
The movement participated in the 2009 municipal election. Candidates need to fulfill the following conditions: not to be a member of any other party, to have no criminal record, not to have been elected for that position more than once in the past, and to be a resident of the city for which he/she candidates. We want to ensure a true people' movement! The candidate does not need to have a political background, but should be rather an ordinary citizen, who wants to share his expertise with the municipality. Further, the movement insisted not to waste tax money; we refused the reimbursement, which the government normally pays to allow for the campaign work.
Did the movement participate in further elections?
In 2010, Beppe Grillo started the 'Movimento 5 stelle' (Movement 5 Stars) to emphasize the standard of quality: environment, water, development, connectivity, and transportation. Beppe Grillo declared that he does not want to be the leader, but that the movement should be self-sustained by free citizens expressing their free will, sharing their ideas and projects.
With this movement, we took part in the 2011 regional elections. We are proud to have achieved great success! In several regions, especially in the north, our candidates passed the three percent- threshold. Some candidates even obtained ten percent of the votes! Hence, in many councils the movement became the third political force, after the main coalition parties, which have been in power since 17 years. That is a great achievement!
However, we do not yet aim to obtain the majority; our goal is to have one elected member in each Regional Government. Having one representative means keeping the entire network and the citizens transparently informed on what’s going on at local political level. In that way, the movement can grow and mature.