Italian populist leader di Maio shows support for Yellow Vest movement

Italian populist leader di Maio shows support for Yellow Vest movement
By Viola Serena Stefanello
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"Yellow vests, don't give up!", wrote Five Star Movement leader and Italian vice-PM Di Maio in an open letter to the French grassroots movement.


Five Star Movement leader and Italian deputy Prime Minister Luigi di Maio published an open letter to the French ‘Gilets Jaunes’ backing their fight.

"In France as in Italy, politics has become deaf to the needs of citizens, who have been excluded from the most important decisions", di Maio wrote, drawing parallels between the Gilet Jaunes protests that have crowded the streets of France since mid-November 2018 and his anti-establishment party.

The letter, titled "Yellow vests, don’t give up!" was published on Il blog delle stelle, the Five Star Movement’s online publication. Di Maio applauded the yellow vest’s interest in direct democracy, offering to provide the yellow vests with some of the online tools the Movement employs to organize grassroots events on a local level and to choose its representatives - despite the yellow vests’ lack of formal spokespeople.

Just like the yellow vest movement, Di Maio’s party has heavily relied on the concept of direct democracy since being founded by comedian Beppe Grillo and web strategist Gianroberto Casaleggio in 2009. The two movements also share a common distrust towards the establishment and a strong reliance on the internet as a strong means of political aggregation.

"Similarly to other European governments, the French government is now mostly interested in protecting the interests of the elites and the privileged, but not of the people", Di Maio wrote, before pointing out that "in Italy, we managed to invert that trend". 

He then sang the praises of the budget plan the government just passed through parliament, claiming it aims to improve the lives of impoverished Italians.

In a further attack to Macron’s policies, Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini also commented that he supports "well-meaning citizens protesting against a president who governs against his own people".

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