As winter turned to spring last year, and Brussels prepared for elections to the ninth European Parliament, political commentators were haunted by the spectre of rising ‘populism’. When the votes were counted, though, the story of 2019 was not a populist advance, but a ‘green wave’.
In Italy, however, the Five Star Movement (M5S) - arguably Europe’s only significant actual populist party - prepared to enter government for the first time, in coalition with the far-right Lega. The movement, founded by charismatic comic Bepe Grillo, came third in Italy’s European election, returning 14 MEPs.
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