Five Star Movement infighting leaves eight EU party officers jobless

The Five Star Movement infighting in the European Parliament is part of a broader struggle for power between Alessandro Di Battista and Luigi Di Maio, two party's leading figures, ahead of the crucial party convention on 14-15 November. [EPA-EFE/FERRARI]

The latest development in the ever closer split-up of Italy’s anti-establishment party in the European Parliament will cost eight assistants their jobs. But it also reflects a deeper power struggle in the entire Five Star Movement back home.

The party’s delegation at the European Parliament, which counts 14 MEPs, has recently been split on the approval of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), as five lawmakers dissented and voted against the EU’s farming subsidies programme in contrast to the indication of the party.

The head of M5S delegation Tiziana Beghin reported the dissenters to the party’s leadership in Rome, hinting at possible expulsions for the dissenters.

Ignazio Corrao, identified as the leader of the ‘rebels’, did not rule out the possibility of a formal split in the group.

The infighting in the European Parliament is part of a broader struggle for power, as the Brussels rebels are backing Alessandro Di Battista’s bid to take over the party at the expense of the current leader, Italy’s foreign affairs minister Luigi Di Maio.

The party’s convention, known as Stati Generali, will be held next week and will decide the future leadership of the largest political group in the Italian Parliament and the headstone of Italy’s ruling coalition

The Five Star dissenters in Brussels also complained that in the week of the CAP vote, their opposing views were not shared to the media by the party’s communications team.

And they have taken their revenge. With individual letters seen by EURACTIV, four dissenters have informed the European Parliament’s administration that they withdraw from an internal group set up specifically to share the eight assistants dealing with party’s communication.

The other members of the Five Star delegation saw this latter move by the ‘rebels’ as a provocation that raises the level of political confrontation and could mark the start of a now imminent split up.

Their withdrawal will also reset the funding of the internal group, leading to the controversial sacking of the eight assistants caught in the crossfire.

“Four MEPs have chosen to release internal political tensions putting the skin of eight employees at stake,” commented the head of M5S delegation Tiziana Beghin.

The rebels’ leader, Ignazio Corrao, said that there is at least two months’ notice and still time to find other solutions, adding that in the worst-case scenario the assistants could take advantage of social safety nets provided by the Belgian government, the Italian news agency Adnkronos reported.

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]

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