Davide Vittori and Margherita de Candia have recently published an interesting analysis of the decline of online participation in Rousseau, the Five Star Movement’s participation platform. Their data, which shows the decline of the average number of voters in Rousseau both in absolute values and percentage values, is in line with previous data published by Lorenzo Mosca and Christian Vaccari as well as myself.
Vittori and De Candia do not really explain the causes of this decline. However, they seem to correlate it to a certain normalization–some may say institutionalization–of the FSM whose growing electoral consensus may curb the “participatory impetus” of the early phase of the Movement:
These descending trends and the low participation rate seem at odds with the initial claim that the Five Star Movement “has direct democracy in its DNA”. Hence, the question arises as to whether the party has become more interested in electoral consensus rather than citizens’ active participation. The former is not an unreasonable process in itself, but it shows that in less than four years the party has ‘normalised’ its participatory impetus.
If there is little doubt that the 5SM is undergoing a process of institutionalization–which is inevitable for a party that nears 30% in the polls and governs large cities such as Rome and Turin–here I would like to advance an alternative explanation of the causes of such decline.