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All About Five Star, Bane of Italy’s Political Establishment

Luigi Di Maio, leader of Italy's anti-establishment Five Star Movement, arrives for an election campaign event in Milan on Feb. 1, 2018.

Luigi Di Maio, leader of Italy's anti-establishment Five Star Movement, arrives for an election campaign event in Milan on Feb. 1, 2018.

Photographer: Geraldine Hope Ghelli/Bloomberg
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The Five Star Movement at center stage in Italy’s March 4 elections could be helped and hurt by its anti-establishment credo. The populist movement, which says it wants to give power back to the Italian people, may fill more seats in Parliament than any of Italy’s political parties. But having spurned traditional alliances and coalitions, Five Star may not get a chance to govern.

It calls itself a movement and not a regular political party. It was founded in 2009 as a web-based organization by Beppe Grillo, a comic-turned-politician, along with internet strategist Gianroberto Casaleggio. At first, Grillo focused on uncovering corruption in government and at corporations like Parmalat SpA, branching out into politics as interest in his campaigns snowballed. The movement says it belongs to neither right nor left, and the main source for its views is its official blog.