The 5-Star Movement “Wins” Italian Elections — Why Does The Wider Green Movement Malign It? Shouldn’t Environmentalism Trump Euroskepticism To Environmentalists?

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The 5-Star Movement performed quite well in Italy’s recent elections on March 4, 2018. Considering that the party essentially didn’t exist a decade ago, being officially founded on October 4, 2009, that’s pretty impressive.

While the 5-Star Movement did take by far the largest number of votes when it came to single-parties (10,697,994 votes — 32.68%), it didn’t manage to take a higher tally than the Center-Right Coalition as a whole did (which took 12,147,611 — 37%). It’s noteworthy that no one party in the Center-Right Coalition managed very high numbers itself though — with the League topping the list with only 5,691,921 votes (17.37%), and Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party only managing to nab 4,590,774 votes (14.01%).

(As a brief detour here — for those wondering about the numbers above, they relate to the Chamber of Deputies, rather than the Senate of the Republic. As I understand it, those 18 years of age and older are eligible to vote in the former races, and those 25 years of age and older are eligible to vote in the latter in addition to the former.)

It’s also notable that the split between the Center-Right Coalition and the 5-Star Movement was essentially geographic — with the Center-Right Coalition monopolizing the industrialized north, and the 5-Star Movement grabbing most of the votes in the south.

Now all of this may sound like Greek to some of those reading this, but I bring it all up because this performance by the 5-Star Movement is essentially the best performance by an environmentalist party in recent history, and yet I haven’t heard any environmentalists express any happiness about it.

While the 5-Star Movement likely attracted many of the recent votes due to the promise of a “basic income” (income of citizenship), youth employment programs, and “legislative simplification efforts” (the elimination of old laws), the fact is that the party is still supportive of environmental policies to a degree that few other parties anywhere are.

With that in mind, something that has become more apparent in recent times is the way that Greens and other types of environmentalists in countries other than Italy completely dismiss the party simply due to its “Euroskepticism,” its anti-war stance, and its promises to deport illegal immigrants that aren’t eligible for asylum and to end the “sea-taxi service.”

Isn’t environmentalism primarily about the environment? Why should the 5-Star Movement’s periphery beliefs concerning the European Union and illegal immigration negate its environmental platform?

You’d think that a party that embraces renewable energy, the concept of economic degrowth, an end to expensive state-level vanity projects, direct participation of the citizenry in public management via “digital democracy,” high-speed rail, widespread telecommuting as a partial solution to traffic problems, etc., would get more support from environmentalists, wouldn’t you?

But it seems that most of the “environmentalists” that I’ve talked to in recent times have instead chosen to fixate on “social issues,” most of which appear to me to mostly be a sideshow, and a way of pitting different sections of the populace against one another so that business can continue as usual.

The situation with the 5-Star Movement seems to bring this to the fore.

Is the party’s strong skepticism of military interventions in the Middle East and North Africa that unpalatable to some people? Is it just that the party is a bit rough around the edges (the logos inferences, for instance)?

The broader point being made here is that there are limits to everything in the world — an understanding of that truth used to be one of the main tenants of environmentalism. Since when was it about utopianism and partisan politics? Aren’t environmentalists supposed to be the realists who can put aside differences of opinion and attempt to avoid catastrophe?

Now, whether or not the 5-Star Movement would actually come through and live up to its environmentalists’ principles if it was to rule is its own, separate question. Who knows?

I’ll just note here, though, that considering the extent of the environmental catastrophe that’s now occurring, and slowly intensifying, that I’d prefer to find out what the party would do given the chance. That seems better, rather, than to just continue with the status quo, for no reason other than the lack of “ideological purity” among those proposing to do something.

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James Ayre

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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