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New EU Commission brought less Stars to the Movement

The M5S delegation divided on the new college of commissioner. Strasbourg vote formalized the internal crisis of the party

The Five Star Movement (M5S) got split over the new European Commission. Ten out of the total 14 MEPs voted in favor of the EU executive body led by Ursula von der Leyen, two abstained and other two voted against. What the plenary session of the European Parliament produced yesterday (27 November) is a true political earthquake within the Movement. Last July, when MEPs were called to vote for the president of the Commission, Luigi Di Maio’s boys and girls voted all in favor of von der Leyen. Now the situation has changed.

A rising internal struggle

Piernicola Pedicini and Ignazio Corrao rejected the college of commissioners in what seems a no-confidence vote against the leadership of the party. “I am sure that if our electoral base were asked whether to support a Franco-German led European Commission in which we have no role, created through the division of powers and seats between socialists, liberals and Christian-democrats, they would have answered absolutely NO”, Corrao wrote on his Facebook page. Here the member of the Parliament asked for a change of policy. “Let’s come back to be the Movement or let’s die”.

M5S dissidents are the result of the choices made by the leader of the Five Star, Luigi di Maio. It is not a problem of European Commission whatsoever. It is, on the contrary, the result of decisions taken in Italy. And Pedicini made it clear.

“To vote for von der Leyen means to vote for an entire package, and in the package there are also commissioners in key positions who represent the continuous thread with the policy which is negative for Italy”, stated Pedicini. “This time for the responsibility of our Government”, which M5S is part of.

Pedicini and Corrao already spoke out against the Movement. They both criticized the actual coalition government. They expressed their own disappointment for the alliance with the Democratic Party (PD), and they didn’t digest Paolo Gentiloni, from PD, as Italian European commissioner.

Furthermore, Eleonora Evi and Rosa D’Amato absteined. D’Amato was critic against the new EU Commission and against the Movement, too. “Last July our vote in favor of president Ursula Von der Leyen was not a blank check but a clear request to break with the past. The break was not there”, she wrote on Facebook. “The fact that the M5S delegation has no political group in Strasbourg greatly limits our possibilities to influence Parliament’s choices”, she added in what is a clear message to Luigi Di Maio and his incapability to build alliances.

Then came Eleonora Evi. “I couldn’t give my support to the von der Leyen Commission and I abstained”, she wrote on Facebook. Her decision was “a difficult vote, certainly driven by many other considerations, also of an internal nature to the M5S”.

Serious mistake”, but no actions will be taken

To vote against the college of Commissioners “was a serious mistake”, stated Fabio Massimo Castaldo, vice-president of the European Parliament and prominent figure of the Movement. “A preliminary vote on our blog could be held, but they didn’t ask for it and I don’t know why”. Castaldo ruled any retaliation out. “Absolutely not”, he pointed out answering a specific question.

M5S are now in troubles, and this is the reason why no action is about to be taken against the four dissidents. Castaldo himself is negotiating with the European Greens the possibility to join the parliamentary group. The Greens are divided, and they are blocking the M5S delegation. If even one of the four dissident is expelled from the Movement, that MEP would be personally free to join the Greens. In that case the Greens would have no more need to embark all the Italians. It exactly what happened during the last legislature, when Marco Affronte entered into the Greens.

At the same time, there are risks for the national government. While all the PD MEPs voted for the college of commissioners, M5S didn’t. What happened in Strasbourg “is not a message to to government”, Castaldo made crystal-clear. Opening an institutional crisis is something that the Movement cannot afford. The pary is suffering a no-stop crisis confidence crisis.

At the 2018 general election M5S emerged as the first party, with 32.68% of consent. After the European elections of last May the Movement became the third party at national level, gaining a consent equal to a bit more of the half of the previous elections (17.06%). Last October, at the regional elections in Umbria the Movement got 7.41% of votes. So the party is falling apart, and elections are not the best options. That’s why dissidents cannot be punished.

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