When Movimento Cinque Stelle (M5S) came on to the Italian political scene a few years ago, massive hopes were placed in them to finally bring change to the Italian government. An inflated sense of hope similar to the hope placed in Barak Obama--the kind of hope one desperately lays on someone when they have nothing to look forward to and nothing else to loose (please read my 2013 post "The Italian Spring?" for background information on this group).
A lot of promises and demands were made, and they came so close... They did spectacularly well in the polls and had a chance to form a coalition government, with the possibility of affecting real change. But due to arrogant (and anti-democratic) leadership, they lost it. Beppe Grillo's totalitarian refusal to play politics sacrificed what little say the party had and confined themselves to the obscure. The five seats they had so valiantly and impressively won proved insufficient to affect change on their own. And it damaged their reputation in the eyes of the public as well.
Grillo is not a politician, nor did he ever claim to be. He even said repeatedly that he had no intention of entering parliament, that he just wanted to incite change. Well, that he did, and he was brilliant at it. Living in Grillo's home region of Liguria, I saw one of his fanatical rallies and as crazy of a lunatic as he was, he made sense. And the degree of corruption and ineffectiveness of the Italian government certainly warranted his crazed antics.
Is there hope for the EU?
I was born and raised in California, but as much as I love my home state, I have always desired to be in Europe. With my first trip at the age of 13, I was hooked. Since then, I have lived in Provence, Sicily, Norway, the French Riviera, the Italian Riviera and the UK. I love Europe and I love the mix of cultures. There is no place on Earth I feel happier and proud to be--something that my family still finds hard to understand.
Of course, living in Europe is not the easiest life and I in no way pretend to see la vie en rose. Some days are so frustrating and complicated (these are usually days that involve paperwork and public offices) that I don't understand why things can't work smoothly or why the concept of customer service has eluded this utopia for so long. But then I meet friends for aperitivo at sunset, or have dinner with people from six different countries, and I remember why I love it so.
A taste for politics
Living in Italy during the aftermath of the financial crisis, was no walk in the park. But as turmoil began to spread across the member states with smaller economies and bigger public debt; as austerity measures were enforced (don't get me started on Greece) and publicly elected leaders were 'removed' by non-elected heads in Brussels, I developed a fierce sense of protection for the continent I hold so dear.
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