The Blogger Grillo announces his candidature to the primaries for leading the Italian Democratic Party

14. July 2009 – 15:56 by acfgroup

The Blogger Grillo, one of the most popular on the Italian blogosphere and famous comedian, has just announced ( ) his will to participate as candidate to the direct election of the national Secretary of the PD, the main Italian party of the Center-left (
The context of the Grillo’s provocative announcement is done by the recent results of the experimentation of the direct election of the party leadership promoted by the PD, born in 2008 from DS ( and Margherita ( The elections have been open to citizens non-members of the party and labelled as ‘primaries’. This experimentation has led to an upheaval of the internal balance, based on the previous electoral consent, concentrated in the left-wing and based on a territorial party structure, which has loosen much of its functions along the last two decades. The experimented model of primaries de facto made possible to the internal center-wing component to climb the leadership positions in the party.

According to the first declarations of the leaders of the Democratic party (PD), Grillo hasn’t the requirements established by the party’s Statute for being candidate to the primaries and the initiative of the famous Blogger seems untimely and “not worrying”. Nevertheless, the move of Grillo arises an interesting point about the relationship between emerging forms of online politics and the institutional domain.

As well know, the political movement of Grillo represents the most successful example of political usage of Internet in Italy, promoted by civil society. It is based on a Blog (, a networks of Meetup (, integrated with groups of activists routed all over the country and even abroad.
Among the huge of Italian online political experiences promoted by the institutional political actors (governments and political parties) no one has had the same success in terms of online audience involved and capacity of citizens mobilization.
It is to be stressed that the Grillo movement hasn’t a only-virtual nature: the former ‘actor’ Grillo has promoted several campaigns of petitions, class actions and so on, mainly focused on freedom of information, moralization of economic ( and political life (, culminating in mass events, involving hundreds of thousand of Italian citizens and in the participation to the last electoral competition at local level (
The case of Grillo political movement is also exemplary of the persisting gap between online sphere and the offline and mainstream media system, which play little attention to his initiatives, even in case of wide mass mobilizations (For the main features, limits and strengths of the Grillo experience in the Italian e-participation context see for example - pp. 66-85).

The announcement of Grillo adopts the rhetoric of an act of strong criticism against the political class, which wouldn’t be open to the new emerging contents and forms of citizens participation – such environment, consumers and digital rights and information freedom – particularly intermediated by the Internet. On the other side, the reaction of the PD (who is facing an important phase of internal transformation after the last electoral defeats) doesn’t seem to give evidence to a more cautious consideration about what is happening on the Net, independently of the specific case of Grillo, although relevant.
What is clear is that the accusation of ‘anti-politics’ arisen against Grillo in the past, both by the national media system and political elite, requires to be reconsidered, unless it is explicitly acknowledged that anti-politics discourse has increasingly become a fundamental arrow of the arch of many contemporary political leaders.

Anna Carola Freschi

(University of Bergamo)

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