Italy: The Five Star digital voting platform that could threaten a government deal in Italy | Franck Iovene/AFP
If Italy’s political parties can agree on a government deal, it would still need to clear a final hurdle: the online voting platform of the Five Star Movement (M5S), which has long championed so-called ‘digital democracy’.
The platform, named after the 18th-century French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, is supposed not only to empower ordinary citizens but guarantee transparency — but it has been slammed as secretive and vulnerable to cyber attacks. Launched in 2016, it currently has some 100,000 members, M5S chief Luigi Di Maio said in July. But critics have lamented a lack of official documentation or certification from a third party to attest that this figure is correct. The M5S’s blog says the number of people registered on “Rousseau” rose from 135,000 in October 2016 to nearly 150,000 in August 2017, before dropping to 100,000 a year later. But political analysts say it cannot be seen as representative of M5S supporters, as the membership numbers are a drop in the ocean compared to the 10.7 million Italians who voted for M5S in the 2018 general election.