Monday 9 January 2017

Italian 5 Star Movement leave EFDD group to seek membership of federalist ALDE

The Italian 5 Star Movement have voted to leave the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD) group they co-founded with UKIP and join the pro-EU, anti-democracy Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in Europe (ALDE) group headed up by Guy Verhofstadt.

It's not that surprising that the 5 Star Movement is looking to the future without UKIP in the EU Parliament but it's quite bizarre that a party founded on the core principal of securing a referendum on leaving the €uro and introducing direct democracy would join a grouping that is fundamentally opposed to both of those ideals.

The ALDE group has to vote on whether to accept Beppe Grillo's motley crew of anarchists but despite some strong opposition in the group to the 5 Star Movement's lack of commitment to the EU project the fact that it will bring them more money to UKIP's disadvantage will smooth the way to their joining.

There will be a reduction in funding to the EFDD group to reflect its smaller size going forward but the overall effect will be somewhat muted as Grillo's party received a sizeable chunk of it as the second largest delegation. It does leave the EFDD group in a precarious position, potentially needing only to lose a single MEP to fall short of the country requirements to form an official group. The other groups will be working hard to poach one of the EFDD members to force it to fold as they have done in the past but something usually turns up when this happens, much to their dismay.

The decision hasn't gone down too well in Italy where Grillo has been criticised by politicians on the left and the right and by Italians who feel let down that he has aligned his party with a group of federalist politicians.