Beppe Grillo and the rise of the Five Stars Movement : an examination of M5S in the context of Italian populism.

Date of Award


Document Type



College of Liberal Arts

Degree Name

Bachelor in Arts


While many scholars hesitate to classify Beppe Grillo's Five Stars Movement, it shares many characteristics with populist radical rightwing parties and can be defined as a populist party. Examining the party through the lens of populist literature rather than according to the media conception of M5S as a unique leftist youth-driven product of the Internet allows for commonalities to be found between M5S and Italy's older populist radical rightwing party, Lega Nord. While the circumstances of their rise differed in many ways, both rose to prominence at a time in which deep flaws in the country's party system and corruption among the political class weakened political efficacy among voters. An examination of the popular explanations of populist electoral success and a historical comparison with the rise of Lega Nord suggests that while Euroscepticism and rising unemployment may have influenced the magnitude of M5S's success, declining political efficacy, as brought about by the institutional design of the Italian political system, political convergence among mainstream parties, and political corruption, was a common feature of both Lega Nord's and M5S's rise to prominence.