Italian Five Star Movement Founder Grillo Backs Populist Salvini as a Man Who Gets Things Done

Five Star Mouvement (M5S) founder Beppe Grillo delivers a speech during a meeting with M5S

Beppe Grillo, the founder and former leader of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) has praised the recent anti-mass migration policies of Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, marking a shift from his prior stance.

Previously, Grillo saw Salvini and the League as political opponents but this week at a performance at the Anfiteatro dell’Anima theatre, the comedian and politician expressed admiration for the party leader, saying he was a man who “does things for real”, Il Giornale reports.

Grillo’s comments come after a long history and rivalry between the former M5S leader and Interior Minister Salvini who he criticised heavily on multiple occasions including attacking Salvini as a “political traitor” last year over disagreements on proposals to reform the country’s electoral laws.

Earlier this year, Grillo remarked that Salvini becoming Interior Minister would be impossible saying: “Salvini, Minister of the Interior? It sounds like the beginning of a science fiction book.”

Salvini, on the other hand, welcomed Grillo and the Five Star Movement earlier that year to cooperate with the then-centre right coalition of which the League was a member along with the Brothers of Italy and former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia (‘Forward Italy’) party.

“Welcome to Grillo if he says that there are too many immigrants, but the natural alliance is with the centre-right,” Salvini said.

Since then, both the Five Star Movement, now led by Luigi Di Maio, and the League have formed the first truly populist anti-establishment government in Western Europe with Salvini banning migrant rescue NGOs from Italian ports after barely two weeks in office.

Recent polls have not only shown the move to have greatly increased the popularity of the League to the point where they are now the most popular party in Italy, but also led to the party winning big in local elections held earlier this week.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at) 


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