ROME — Italy’s 5Star Movement is at risk of a major split after its founder, the comedian Beppe Grillo, torpedoed the ambitions of the man he wanted to be its next leader, former Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.
Grillo effectively ended Conte’s chances of successfully rebooting the movement with a blog post that read: “Conte … has neither political vision nor managerial skills. He has no experience of organizations and no capacity for innovation.”
Conte agreed to modernize the 5Stars after his coalition government collapsed in February, but the two men disagreed over a planned reduction of Grillo’s powers.
Conte gave the 5Stars’ founder an ultimatum on Monday, saying Grillo had to decide whether to be a “generous parent who lets his child grow up or an overlord father who prevents his child’s emancipation.”
But Grillo claimed that Conte wanted to create a top-down party, which was not true to the 5Stars’ origins.
“We cannot let a movement born to spread direct and participatory democracy turn into a one-man party governed by a seventeenth-century statute,” he wrote.
Grillo has instead called a vote to create a new five-person steering committee to lead the party.
The 5Stars are now at risk of a schism, as some members could follow Conte if he creates a new party. A new poll for il Giorno found support from 16-18 percent of voters for a hypothetical new party led by Conte, with the 5Stars back on 12 percent, a fall of 4-5 percentage points.
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