Di Maio And The Five Star Movement’s Double Standard

In the last few weeks, a big scandal has surrounded Antonio di Maio, the father of Italy’s deputy prime minister Luigi di Maio.

In the last few weeks, a big scandal has surrounded Antonio di Maio, the father of the minister of Economic Development and deputy prime minister Luigi di Maio. In a television report, a former worker of his construction company declared that he had worked without a regular contract, that he was subject to a work-related accident and that he was persuaded to not file charges about the fact. After the broadcast, the whole thing snowballed. Thus, it came out that Luigi and his sister Rosalba are members of the company, that the headquarters is located in an area with four irregular buildings, all owned by Antonio di Maio, whose last declared income amounts to the modest sum of 88 euro.

Solidarity and critics

This embarrassing situation urged the Five Star Movement to publish a video of apologize, where a moved Antonio di Maio reads a letter in which he admits his mistakes, although highlighting the fact that his son is not involved and that “the journalists, not being able to attack Luigi’s honesty, transparency and courage, started to shamelessy attack his family with the aim of discrediting him and of stopping him from doing his job”.

Immediately, there have been displays of solidarity by the sympathisers with the Movement, but also many critics. In particular, former prime minister Matteo Renzi said that the Movement is victim of its same communication style.

The 5SM’s double standard

When in 2017 Renzi’s father, Tiziano, was involved in a maxi trial, the Movement fiercely attacked him, following a typical Italian tendency to carry out lawsuits on the newspapers and not in the courts. At the end, Tiziano Renzi got clear on lack of evidences. Marco Travaglio, the editor of Il Fatto Quotidiano, the closest publication to the Movement, was condemned to refund him for defamation. Nevertheless, he is still under an ongoing investigation for the emission of fake invoices.

Maria Elena Boschi, former minister for Constitutional Reforms really close to Matteo Renzi, talking about Antonio di Maio declared: “I don’t wish for you what your son did to my family and my father”. As a matter of fact, Pierluigi Boschi was on trial for the bankruptcy of Banca Etruria, the bank of which he was vice president. However, both his allegations for the excessive severance pay granted to the former general director and for the wrong advice services to the clients, were later dismissed.

It’s politics, stupid!

In such cases, the result of the trials fades in the background of the Italian public opinion. If a politician or a member of his family is settled in court, his reputation is compromised forever. This tendency became more prominent in Italy with the famous book La Casta, published in 2007 by two famous journalists: Gian Antonio Stella and Sergio Rizzo. This word that comes from the Indian caste system, became part of the public debate and has since been used to highlight the excessive politicians’ wages and the general corruption and incompetence of the political class.

The Five Star Movement more than anyone else, made its political fortune by exploiting the forced cleavage between a majority of honest citizens and the bad, evil politicians. However, for a key-minister and party leader of a justicialist movement, being a part of a company that hires workers without contract — even without an operational role — is at least an own goal that we need to think about.