In many Western democracies, the people’s trust in politicians is declining and populist movements are on the rise. In spring 2013, in an Italy marred by years of a dysfunctional Berlusconi government, comedian Beppe Grillo’s protest movement “Movimento 5 Stelle” vows to send all politicians home and bring the people to power. They win a stunning 25% of the vote to become the single largest party in Italy, and send 163 ordinary people into Parliament.
But what happens when political ideals meet parliamentary reality? Can you be uncompromising and democratic at the same time? And are Internet referendums on the party leader’s blog direct democracy or faceless mob rule?