Italy’s ex-PM Conte takes over as 5Star leader

Italy’s 5Star Movement has elected former Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte as its leader, cementing his control over a once proudly anti-establishment party that has increasingly moved into the mainstream.

Conte won 93 percent of the vote from 5Star supporters in a two-day online poll that closed late Friday. No other candidate stood against Conte, who served as prime minister from June 2018 until February this year without party affiliation but heading coalition governments which involved the 5Star Movement.

“The intense work of these past months has borne fruit and now we can start from a solid basis,” Conte said in a Facebook post Saturday.

He has his work cut out. While the 5Star Movement is part of Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s national unity government and remains the largest political group in parliament, its support has fallen away due to policy fumbles and party infighting.

Conte was first asked to front the populist movement in February, but the process was delayed by disputes with the party’s founder, one-time comedian Beppe Grillo.

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