Douglas Carswell

26 FEB 2013

Italy and iDemocracy

Politics, I speculated in my book on iDemocracy, is about to be reborn. It will "be shaped by groups of like-minded people, mobilising online".

Today, four months after publication, Italian blogger Beppe Grillo's Five Star Movement has come from no where to win over a quarter of the popular vote.

Some pundits will tells us what this says about the Euro. Or what it tells us about austerity. Or what it says about fish cakes blah blah. But it is what it bodes for the future of democracy that fascinates me.

Parties will, I suggested, "have to allow citizen consumers to select party candidates". Sure enough, Five Star did precisely this online.

"What politicans say will no longer be assessed through pundits ... but gauged by the crowds online", I ventured. Beppe Grillo does not give main stream media interviews, talking instead directly to his audience.

"But this is just a protest movement" I hear you say. I am sure Liberal MPs in the Welsh valleys once said much the same about Keir Hardie's organised labour movement.

Votes cast in protest against an established order do not count for any less than any other.

"Twenty first century politics will be shaped by the citizen consumer interest much the way twentieth century politics was shaped by the organised labour interest".

Beppe Grillo might not be around in Italian politics in a decade. This internet thingy, and the changes it is bringing will be.

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The End of Politics and the Birth of iDemocracy

"A revolutionary text ... right up there with the Communist manifesto" - Dominic Lawson, Sunday Times

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