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Italy: the country that brought us the inspiration

for Hitler

and Trump.

And it's still at the forefront of political innovation

Europe's Silicon Valley for

terrible democratic movements.

Take the neo-fascist Matteo Selfie-ni for instance.

But today I'd like to talk to you about another figure.

A political entrepreneur who prefers to stay more behind the scenes.

Which in Italy, still means the beach.

This is Davide Casaleggio.

The puppetmaster of the 5-Star Movement - Italy's strongest party in parliament

- and the Mark Zuckerberg of Italian democracy.

Yeah, let's just keep that on.

Casaleggio runs his party like a high-tech startup.

Which means it promises to improve lives,

but really just exists to make him a profit.

The party may now be in chaos, but for Casaleggio that doesn't really matter.

He can just take his money and leave Italy to deal with the fallout.

So how did he pull this all off?

Let me present to you the "Five-Star Movement's Five-Step Method"

for getting rich off of democracy.

It's so simple that you can do it at home.

Step number one: find a market to exploit.

You need a country with a broken political system.

So take any of the countries in red.

Except for Italy of course it's already taken.

Step two: Establish your brand.

A political party for people who hate political parties.

Let the 5-Star Movement serve as inspiration.

It's motto?


Which according to Google Translate means...

That is a message everyone can get behind

Step 3: Develop your technology.

Like the 5-Star Movement's Rousseau platform, which is owned by Casaleggio.

It functions just like Facebook.

In the sense that members can shout their opinions into the Internet

and feel like that matters.

But also in the sense that you get to control everything they see and do.

Oh and their data is just lying there in case you want it.

Step 4: market your goods.

To get people interested, your party needs influencers -

people who can be trusted because they're either hot or funny.

The 5-Star Movement chose the jokester Beppe Grillo to build a popular following.

You can easily do the same.

There are plenty of desperate comedians willing to enter politics.

And the last and most important step: monetize.

Time to profit from all your "experience" in politics and technology.

Enter your party into government -

in a coalition with the right or the left, who cares -

And sell your inside access to outside companies.

I'm not saying Casaleggio did this.

Maybe the following things are just coincidences.

Tobacco company Philip Morris hired Casaleggio's consulting firm.

Now e-cigarettes are taxed less.

And pharma company Gilead hired Casaleggio's firm.

Now Italy's health service covers the cost of its [new anti-cancer drug].

Ferry service Moby Lines needs a new license from the government.

And now they hired Casaleggio's firm.

Again, I'm not saying any of this is related.

Could just be pure coincidence.

Let's try to simplify this all with a graphic.

Davide Casaleggio heads the association that controls the 5-Star Movement,

the tech platform Rousseau and a consultancy firm.

The 5-Star Movement pays Rousseau

while Rousseau provides it with technology.

With this technology data is accessible through Rousseau to Casaleggio.

This information could be helpful for influencing the party

or informing his clients.

His clients pay Casaleggio so they can then influence

what his party does with its power.

And finally, 5-Star politicians pay fees into an

account that eventually leads back to


Or maybe it would be easier if we just

looked at my own online platform,

the corruption-detecting app TrickAdvisor.

Let's take a look at Casaleggio's score.

First category: public unaccountability.

He runs a political party but never stands for election.

Five stars out of five.

Dirty dealings.

He forces his party to use his own products.

Five stars.

Nepotism: He controls the party that his father founded.

Five stars.

Questionable finances.

What does he do with all the party fees he collects?

Who knows?

Five stars.

And conflicts of interests.

Working with big companies while being so close to the government...

You guessed it.

Five stars.

Okay, let's calculate the average.


times 5

divided by 5.

And Casaleggio gets...

5 stars.


That's why its called 5-Stars.

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