Five Star Movement bounces back in Sicily

A politician from Beppe Grillo’s Five Star Movement (M5S) has been elected mayor of the Sicilian town of Ragusa, a boost for the party after recent infighting and weakening support.

Five Star Movement bounces back in Sicily
M5S leader Beppe Grillo celebrated the Sicily win. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

Federico Piccitto won the seat yesterday with 69 percent of the second-round vote and will be the M5S’s first mayor on the island. 

The win was celebrated by Grillo on his blog: “It is time for Ragusa to change: it will be hard, but it will be a wonderful experience. Together with the entire community of the M5S we will succeed.”

Grillo made headlines in Sicily last year by swimming across the Strait of Messina to support M5S candidates in an October election.

Piccitto, a former microchip designer, vowed to continue the M5S “dream” and make the town hall transparent and accessible to citizens.

Along with Lombardy, Veneto and Campania, Sicily was a key battleground in the country’s national election in February. Grillo’s protest party clinched 32.7 percent of the Chamber of Deputies vote and 29.5 percent of the Senate vote on the island and went on to win more than a quarter of the national vote.

But a poor performance in other regional elections recently was seen as a sign of the party’s waning popularity. The Movement’s ability to succeed in mainstream politics was further challenged this week by the ousting of an MP who dared to criticize Grillo.

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