Beppe Grillo

With the postal deadline for the Italian referendum looming, I weigh up the moral question of to vote or not to vote. And as I do, I will remember that unlike many others, at least I have a choice.
If we are to believe the headlines, following the European elections any visions of a united Europe will have to be shelved when euro skeptics will overrun parliament and bring the EU to a standstill.
With a new and disruptive coalescence of young voters on the rise, who fully oppose the iron grip of the elderly, the fragile and illusive reins of power may well slip from Renzi's grasp...
In the absence of a structure connecting the Movement's grassroots with its highest branches, the Five Star Movement may end up losing its intrinsic bond with the citizens and, therefore, its appeal as an innovative political force.
Brand and Grillo's critiques of the current political establishment are potentially compatible with the kind of revolution of politics we need. But the destructive rhetoric that characterises their views, built upon the idea of an 'us' versus an irresponsible and corrupt 'them', who are therefore not worth seeking a mediation with, probably is not.
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While there are good reasons for liberal populists to be disillusioned, the solution is not to abandon representative democracy but to reinforce it. The liberal populism of Grillo and his ilk must be confronted before it's too late.
What significant numbers of voters in Italeigh have in common is a profound sense that conventional politicians have let them down. They lie, they cheat, they make promises that they have no intention of keeping - and, most seriously, they preside over a collapse in living standards that throws thousands of people out of work and creates real, palpable misery.
Even though Fellini was not around to direct them, the recent general elections certainly look like they are following his scripts.
This triumph of pragmatism and realism over vision means the two major parties are essentially advocating minor variations of the same sorts of policies. A major economic upswing might still save the Tories, just as a 'Black Wednesday' style catastrophe could catapult Labour to a majority - but neither is that likely in the 26 months before voters go to the polls.