Beppe Grillo: A Reluctant Kingmaker in Rome?

It is often asserted that public politics is a serious and colorless undertaking. Yet, in rare and smart exceptions, some political personalities do try to synchronize public affairs with public entertainment. In electoral terms, till present, Silvio Berlusconi was the sole standard bearer of comic side to the Italian politics. He understood well that people secretly crave for theatrics from their political leaders in public rallies. But, Berlusconi is being dethroned from the title of the unique Italian politico-comic figure, as today a veritable and professional comic has proved that his own enterprise is politically electable.

By the start of this year, I had surmised that Beppe Grillo, though coming from the Italian entertainment sector, has more to offer, politically, than just being a mere M.G. Ramachandran or K. Karunanidhi of Italy. He is a comic actor, but he has also technologized the Italian politics by anchoring his five star movement on the internet as opposed to making use of the Italian television. It was mentioned that Beppe Grillo is aspiring for a unique objective in Europe – the erosion by the internet of all other forms of political mediation. Today, as the results accumulate, Beppe Grillo’s five star movement has become Italy’s election success story.

If Burlisconi has earlier gained success by carefully exploiting the Italian television, Grillo has now succeeded by heavily banking on the most relevant medium of the day – the internet. Earlier, It had been written, here, that Grillo’s movement perceive’s the traditional political parties standing between the electorate and the authorities, and that it is confident that its internet based popular strategy is pioneering a new and direct democracy that will see the elimination of all barriers between the citizen and the state. Today, the development is being discussed by other contributors as well.

Apart this novelty, the mundane chessboard of Italian politics would earnestly wait for Grillo’s next move. The big question to speculate is: Would Grillo be agreeing to form a coalition with Bersani’s centre-left alliance? As otherwise, a re-election within 3-4 months seems presumable with a caretaker government taking temporary control – given the fact that none of the established parties has gained a clear majority, and that Beppe Grillo’s five star movement has vowed to refrain from forming a coalition with any other political party.

Due to his politico-economic agenda, the comedian turned politician is already unsettling the international business press. “But Grillo also wants to suspend interest payments on Italian debt, and to hold a referendum on euro membership. That could antagonize E.U. officials who are trying to pressure Italy to get its debt in order without leaving the currency union.” There is even a sadistic inkling for Silvio Burlisconi.

Beppe Grillo’s 20 points post-electoral agenda, in his letter to the Italians, is here.

Asimov Arifov is a political scientist/researcher with The École des hautes études en sciences sociales, (EHESS) Paris, France. He can be followed on twitter @asimovarifov for all his latest analysis on international questions.