Together with sixty other deputies and senators, he wants to establish a new club in parliament called “Together for the future”. In the autumn, they would like to establish a party of the same name. Di Maio remains at the head of Italian diplomacy, and non-party Prime Minister Mario Draghi immediately expressed his full support.
Di Maia’s decision to leave the M5S series culminated in a weeks-long dispute within the movement over Russia’s stance against Ukraine. While the head of Italian diplomacy supported Draghi’s pro-Western stance, including the supply of humanitarian aid and weapons, the M5S leadership and its membership base were opposed. “We want to prevent a prolongation of the war and human suffering,” the head of the movement, former Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, explained why he refused to supply arms to Ukraine.
A few days ago, the founder of M5S, the comedian Beppe Grillo, who still enjoys the position of the highest authority, joined the Minister of Foreign Affairs. “Those who do not believe in our rules of the game should state this openly,” he said, saying that going against the leadership’s attitudes would not be worthwhile for Di Mai.
A broad coalition in danger
Draghi’s premiere puts the latest developments in the movement that is part of his government alliance in an unenviable situation. There is a risk that the Five Stars Movement would leave the coalition three-quarters of a year before the next parliamentary elections.
Another reason could be his efforts to gain more voter support. It is a long way from the former 33 percent, which it won in the previous parliamentary elections in 2018. It is now around twelve percent in the polls. In addition, a possible new Di Mai party could be expected to deprive them of further support.
Draghi hopes to keep his broad coalition together. When he took over the government last February, not only the M5S but also the right-populist League of former Interior Minister Matteo Salvini joined it. In the past, both sides have been critical of the EU and have been open to the idea that Italy could leave the single European currency. At the same time, they expressed sympathy for Russia and its policies.
The former head of the European Central Bank, Draghi, on the other hand, made his commitment conditional on his government being unconditionally pro-European and supporting NATO.
Di Maio himself also changed under the prime minister’s influence. The 35-year-old politician, who had openly admired President Putin in the past, became a pragmatist who was willing to compromise. Because of this, however, in the eyes of orthodox supporters and members of the M5S, it became part of the political caste they have always fought against.
Di Maio has provoked the resentment of many of them in recent months, for example, by unreservedly supporting the government’s strict measures against the spread of Covid-19, including vaccinations. Many voters and M5S members, on the other hand, have consistently rejected any vaccination and considered it an intrusion. They also took part in anti-government protests demanding the overthrow of Draghi.