The Beppe Grillo contagion effect

Beppe Grillo has a new objective: Europe. While Italian politics struggles to comprehend the political tsunami that has followed his election, from his home in Genoa the leader of the Five Star Movement’s mind is already jetting across borders. His stated aim is to export his experience to other European countries where the key aspects of the political and economic crisis are very similar to the one in Italy. “We can’t think that we’ve done it all and stay here in Rome. We need to push on and the target is Strasbourg in 2014, the European Parliament. Because there is a similiar need there, as in Italy and because if we find some support in Europe, the change will be far-reaching,” he tells his followers.

A man given to flights of fantasy or a visionary? The objective has become a lot more concrete in recent weeks when the debate at his meetings broke through into other countries and languages. Those behind the movement call it a “revolution”, “a kind of ’68 that has the internet as its glue”.

“We’ve just started,” says Grillo, who, with his followers – as he has explained frequently to those who have been listening to him recently – already have contacts, especially with eastern European countries from Slovakia to Romania and Bulgaria. But then they’re turning their attention to Greece, Spain and Portugal. “This is what I mean when I say that we’ve just started.”

The European press is divided when it comes to Grillo. Manuel Castells, in La Vanguardia, translated in Italy by Internazionale, writes how “the experimental nature of this traditional anti-politics project is clear,” adding: “But it has been supported by millions of people and by many young people who identify themselves with the desire to get out of the blind cycle of manipulation and non-transparency in the delegation of powers. The divide between civil society and political institutions is growing and is a phenomenon that is also widespread in Spain.”

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