Justine Braby & Reinhold Mangundu

WE-Africa member Lorenzo Fioramonti joined the Italian Five Star Movement party as an economic advisor last year in the run-up to the country’s elections. The party was started in 2009 by the well known blogger and comedian Beppe Grillo and Gianroberto Casaleggio, a web strategist. The party see the urgency for real economic transformation in Italy as the current economic policies have in the past left loopholes open for tremendous corruption and thus increasing poverty levels. The party believes this transformation is only possible through the endorsement of principles based on zero-cost politics, degrowth and good governance. For these to become visible, citizens need to actively participate directly through channels like e-democracy where their voices can be better heard. Represented by the party’s five stars, the party takes cognisant of the following key issues: public water, sustainable transport, sustainable development, right to internet access and environmentalism. These are some of the key contributing issues to a wellbeing economy, an economy that shifts away from growth policies and instead aiming to increase equality and eradicate poverty.

The Five Star Movement ran for Italy’s presidential elections this month and surprisingly emerged as one of Italy’s single biggest parties ever. Obtaining 33% of the overall votes, the party surpassed the predictions and expectations of many people, including those of former political leaders. The election result however led to deadlock as none of the country’s three main parties will be able to rule alone because all received votes below 50 %. The rightist coalition of parties obtained about 37% of the votes, the highest poll result. Currently, no government has been formed but according to political analysts, the ongoing talks could lead to the creation of a coalition which would mean that compromises would have to be made between the different parties.

Being the economic advisor to the party before elections, Lorenzo has been elected to serve as a member to the Italian parliament and is now also running for the post of Minister of Economic Development. The agenda he will be going for will be on a post-GDP ‘wellbeing’ economic system. In his recent article, Lorenzo mentions that there has always been a misunderstanding about what the party stands for. Despite claims from critics that the party might bring instability to Italy, he strongly believes the Five Star Movement has the potential to foster good governance and an economy that serves the wellbeing of its citizens.

The Five Star Movement’s policy programme is designed to tackle Italy’s longstanding economic woes, including endemic unemployment and the casualisation of the workforce. They hope to reshape the economy to a circular structure, one which supports small and medium enterprises, which have been the backbone of Italy’s economy for generations, and have been seen shrinking in recent years. They further intend to improve the fiscal and judicial systems, whose inefficiencies have been suffocating Italy’s entrepreneurial spirit and fuelling tax evasion and corruption.

Lorenzo’s move into parliament will not be easy given the shared seats with the opposition but it could however be the first step in influencing policy makers to develop better development policies aimed at improving the lives of people across the globe.

Despite his new appointment as Member of Parliament, Lorenzo is still continuing with his remarkable support of the Wellbeing Economy in Africa. We are extremely proud of Lorenzo for showing us what can be done in practical terms at country level. Italy seems the first to take on this task.

Picture source: https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/911697/italy-elections-2018-5star-movement-beppe-grillo-lorenzo-fioramonti-luigi-di-maio