Conte wins key battle over 5-Star revival

Photo: EPA Giuseppe Conte

Italy’s former PM Giuseppe Conte won a key legal battle related to the leadership of the ruling 5-Star Movement, Reuters reported. The movement has been torn by internal rows. However Conte's win paves the way for decisive revival of the party. Conte agreed to take the reins of 5-Star after his coalition government was sacked in February, but his plans to relaunch the struggling group have been delayed by a bitter dispute with the firm that provided its internet platform.

The company, called the Rousseau Association, said many 5-Star MPs had refused to honour a commitment to pay part of their salaries towards the platform's upkeep. In response, it refused to hand over the identities of the party's members, making it impossible for Conte to be formally voted in as leader and leaving the movement politically paralysed.

"The waiting and the delays are over. We have finally obtained the data of our members and reached an agreement with the Rousseau Association," Conte said on Facebook, adding that 5-Star would honor its debts to the firm. 5-Star is the largest party in parliament thanks to its triumph at 2018 elections when it took 32% or of the vote, but since then its popularity has been undermined by policy U-turns and internal feuding.

It is now polling at around 16%, making it Italy's fourth largest party, but it is still only five points behind the right-wing League, the most popular group on the country's fragmented political landscape. Conte wants to give the formerly anti-establishment protest movement a more traditional, moderate face as part of his efforts to form a stable alliance with the centre-left Democratic Party.

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