Beppe Grillo goes to Rome – The rise and possible futures of the most unlikely winner of Italy’s 2013 election
29 May, 2013
12:30 – 2:00pm
By Dr Giovanni Navarria
Postdoctoral Fellow, Institute for Democracy and Human Rights, The University of Sydney
A general election always offers an important opportunity for checking the democratic pulse of a country. Italy’s 2013 election was no exception. With no clear ruling majority in the Parliament, there was a most unlikely winner: the 5 Star Movement, a citizens’ platform led by Beppe Grillo, the controversial, charismatic comedian-turned-blogger-turned-political-guru. Before the election, the pollsters had estimated the Movement could get anything between 15 and 18 per cent of the votes. But Grillo’s Movement went way beyond any forecasts by pollsters. It managed the impossible for a first-timer: with over 25 per cent, it became almost overnight the major single political force in the country.
In this seminar, Dr Navarria explains the reasons why this happened and what Grillo’s success may signify for the future of democracy in Italy, a country that is facing both an escalating crisis and stubborn refusals within the political class to initiate credible reforms of the political system. Ultimately, Dr Navarria argues, the Five-Star Movement’s success represents a wake-up call for Italy’s democracy: it embodies both the positive and negative aspects of the crisis the country is undergoing.
The Five-Star Movement, Dr Navarria suggests, could well collapse under the weight of its own promises and unexpected successes. Two factors may play a crucial role in its conceivable failure: the naivety of its newly elected MPs and the strange and contradictory qualities of its leader. Grillo is a controversial figure who has sown the seeds of a new form of populism marked by strongly anti-democratic sentiments that could very well define both the shape and quality of Italy’s democratic future and, perhaps more alarmingly, that of the rest of Europe.
Giovanni's research interests include the relationship between authoritarian regimes in Asia and the language and tactics of democracy; the role new communication media have in politics; the meaning of representation and the role of civil society in contemporary democracies. He is currently working on a project focusing on the effects communication media have on prevailing power-dynamics between state and citizens in the authoritarian regimes of the Asia-Pacific region. He is also completing a book exploring the changing meanings of power and civic engagement in technologically advanced societies. In the past eight years he has lived and worked in London and Berlin. During 2012 he was a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the Social Science Research Center of Berlin. Dr. Navarria holds a PhD in Politics from the University of Westminster, United Kingdom, and a Degree in Philosophy from the University of Catania, Italy.
Location: RC Mills Boardroom 148, Level 1, RC Mills Building, University of Sydney
|Phone:||02 9351 3324|