The anti-establishment Five Star Movement spearheaded Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s defeat in Italy’s referendum on constitutional reform. But that’s just the start of its ambitions to transform Italy and break up the European Union.
1. What is Five Star?
It calls itself a movement and insists it’s most definitely not a regular political party. It was founded in 2009 as a web-based organization by Beppe Grillo, a comic-turned-politician, and internet strategist Gianroberto Casaleggio. Grillo at first focused on uncovering corruption in government and at corporations like Parmalat SpA, branching out into politics as interest in his campaigns snowballed. The movement says it belongs to neither right nor left, and the main source for its views is Grillo’s blog, beppegrillo.it. Grillo is notorious for the expletives he shouts at political rallies — but at his home in Genoa he is a charming host, playing blues and jazz on a grand piano covered with piles of books.