The Five star Movement and the use of the internet as a political tool

Giovanni Balslev Olesen, Silas Neil Tashi, Jakob Bach Svith & Jonatan Henriquez Ussing

Student thesis: Termpaper


The Five Star Movement was founded in part because of a fundamental discontent of the Italian political system. They therefore naturally seek to do the opposite of what the traditional Italian parties do. While the traditional political parties have a leader and a secretary, who are both involved in the political direction of the party, the M5S only have Beppe Grillo, who is not involved with the M5S's candidates in the parliament, other than making sure they are following M5S guidelines. Rather than having a political ideology, which is common for political parties, the M5S has one main cause of reforming the democratic system. Hypothetically, once this goal is met, there will no longer be any reason for the party to exist. Their idea of full disclosure in terms of funding and spending also represent something completely different from how the Italian system has previously worked. The M5S differs from traditional parties to the point that they can be categorized as a social movement and this should, at least in theory, not have changed even though they have been institutionalized in the parliament. For the M5S and Beppe Grillo in particular, the Internet has provided an effective way of getting opinions out to the Italian people. Their use of the blog format is well aligned with their declared goals of increased in civil participation and transparency in government. In order to represent the M5S officially, candidates have to meet some simple, non-negotiable requirements. The same, but to a lesser degree, can be said about the requirements for M5S voters. The voting system is still in its early stages, so there are not a lot of examples of problems regarding it. However, plenty of criticism has been set forth, often claiming that the movement's ideas of equality are not detectable in many of its practices. In analyzing the M5S and their use of the Internet as a tool to structure their organization, we applied the M5S e-democratic program to certain criteria from Rowe & Frewer’s Nine point evaluation criteria. From this we gathered that they have considered, and implemented, many of the basic tenements of a successful e-democracy campaign according to Rowe & Frewer. In terms of representativeness, transparency and task definition, the M5S have legitimated their use of e-democracy. However - and more as a result of poor Internet infrastructure in Italy - the M5S have not been able to reach through to everyone, although they have attempted to rectify this through physical participation. In this sense, the M5S could be seen to be lacking a vital component of its e-democracy program; however, when analysing the effectiveness of this campaign the general assumption can be made that the M5S, because of its meteoric rise since its inception and subsequent success at the 2013 general elections, have demonstrated a legitimate and effective e-democratic campaign. Moreover, as the M5S movement is a relatively young initiative, very little qualitative and in-depth analytical research into the M5S has been conducted; even those that do focus their study on the M5S are quick to note the relative infancy of the movement and the subsequent lack of material to conduct thorough research. In terms of more palpable results, they have managed to influence some of the traditional Italian parties and pushed through changes in regulations regarding the exclusion of sentenced senators. This can be seen as an important step in the direction that the M5S wants for Italian politics, seeing as it was one of the three declared main objectives of the Vaffanculo Day in 2007.

EducationsBasic - International Bachelor Study Program in Social Sciences, (Bachelor Programme) Basic
Publication date19 Dec 2013
SupervisorsHelene Dyrhauge


  • e-democracy
  • Roberto Cassaleggio
  • Italian politics
  • Beppe Grillo
  • Movimento 5 Stelle
  • Five Star Movement
  • Italy
  • M5S