Jean-Paul Gagnon (Australian Catholic University) interviews Wolfgang Merkel on the state of democratic theory, democratic quality and crises. The interview will soon be published in the forthcoming book by Jean-Paul Gagnon, Democracies Across Dialogues: Presents, Pasts and Futures.
By Francesco Bailo
Francesco Bailo is a PhD student in the Department of Government and International Relations at the University Of Sydney and a guest researcher at WZB. He is completing his dissertation thesis on online forms of political mobilisation, organisation and deliberation, focusing on the case of the Five Star Movement in Italy.
To talk about identity and soul of the Five Star Movement (M5S) is not only politically contentious but also practically challenging because of the different axes (at least three) along which the M5S has been developing: the vertical top-down axis from Beppe Grillo to his followers (and sympathising voters), the horizontal axis connecting thousands of militants across the country to local, flexible and loosely organised meetups, and finally the cloudy axis linking Internet users through the different online communicative platforms pertaining to the Movement. The academic literature and the media have been prevalently interested in mapping the provenance of votes. I will try here to show some data also on the position of the M5S derived from its 2013 electoral program and the political background of both the onsite and online activists of the Movement.
But let’s first start briefly introducing the trajectory of a movement that vehemently refuses to be called a party or to be associated with any traditional political identity.