The Five Star Movement (M5S) in Rome

The real life of utopian politics

in Social Anthropology/Anthropologie sociale
Jan‐Jonathan Bock Carl von Ossietzky University Oldenburg, Referat Forschung und Transfer

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In June 2016, the anti‐establishment and grassroots‐democratic Five Star Movement (MoVimento Cinque Stelle, M5S) won local elections in Rome. Following fundamental opposition, supporters of the Movement now had to demonstrate their ability to govern and deliver on far‐reaching promises. This paper explores what happened when the utopian aspirations of the M5S – such as entangling the represented and their representatives in a permanent political dialogue, reshaping civic culture and harnessing new communication technologies for innovative types of participation – encountered political reality. I show that the divergent rhythms and tempos of political practice and bureaucratic reality soon split the more radical M5S supporters from the newly elected officials. Rather than realising utopian democratic behaviour, new technological possibilities and innovation in participation began to fracture the M5S.

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