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DemCP colloquium - CLAUDIA MARIOTTI (Università Roma Tre): "The Evolution of Party Structures in the Populist 'Five Star Movement' in Italy"

When:We 26-05-2021 16:00 - 17:15

Research colloquium of the Centre for the Study of Democratic Cultures and Politics.

Claudia Mariotti, Università Roma Tre
The Evolution of Party Structures in the Populist 'Five Star Movement' in Italy


As Michels wrote: ‘It is organisation that gives birth to the domination of the elected over the electors, of the mandataries over the mandators, of the delegates over the delegators. Who says organisation, says oligarchy’” (Michels, 1962, p. 365). The core of Michels’ theory relies on the ‘technical indispensability of leadership’, which arises – at the beginning – spontaneously but, in a second stage of the development of the party it becomes a professional leadership and the elites become stable and irremovable. Following Michels’ idea, the more a party grows, the more it needs a hierarchical – and permanent – bureaucracy, the more it has to decrease its democratic degree. The idea of this ongoing research is that the Italian Five Star Movement is now living the ‘second stage’ of its development, reshaping itself from a populist, digital party based on what Michels called ‘organic democracy’ to a traditional party that relies on an inorganic idea of democracy.

About the speaker

Dr Claudia Mariotti is Adjunct Professor of “Italian political system” in the Department of Political science at the University of Roma Tre (Rome). She authored refereed articles, chapters in edited volumes, and encyclopedia entries. She is also the author of a monography on Berlusconi’s party, Forza Italia (Le Storie, Rubbettino 2010). Her fields of research are about political parties, charismatic leadership ( Berlusconism: Some empirical research, Bulletin of Italian politics, 2010 ) and elite theory ( Elite Theory, in The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Interest Groups, Lobbying and Public Affairs, 2020 ), and, more recently, her work revolves around political polarization ( La Polarizzazione nell’era Trump: le elezioni presidenziali del 2020, Rivista di Politica, 2021 ) and lobbying ( Lobbying Industries in Europe: a comparative analysis in Lobbying in Europe, 2017 ). In 2015 and 2016 she was an Erasmus Visiting Fellow at the Political Science department at the University Carlos III in Spain (Madrid).