Grillo ready for political role amid Italy's chaos
When ex-comedian Beppe Grillo took to the campaign road with his Five Star Movement (M5S), he drove around the country in a camper van on what he called his “Tsunami Tour”. On the day after a remarkable poll which saw 8.6 millon Italians vote for his virtual online party (it still has no party HQ, all business is done online), he might have been forgiven for indulging in a little bit of “I told you so”. After all, the M5S result was nothing if not a tsunami.
Instead, when Grillo met with reporters outside his Genoa home yesterday, he offered a little bit of zen-type wisdom, saying: “Today is a day like all the others.” Of course, it was anything but. Repeatedly asked how his 162-strong army would conduct themselves in the new hung parliament, Grillo danced to the left and then to the right: “You people have got to learn to change, to change your questions . . .
“We’re in a different phase now, and if you lot keep on asking, what will you do now, who are you going to ally yourselves with . . . I mean we’ve got to rebuild this country and I’m in there talking to the foreign media, to CNN . . .”
Grillo, who did not himself contest the elections because of a conviction for manslaughter following a 1981 car crash in which three people were killed, did however offer at least two indications of plans.
For a start, he said he would represent the M5S at the consultations which President Giorgio Napolitano will convene to form the new government. More significantly, he came up with his first proposal as the official third party in the land when he nominated Nobel Prize in Literature winner playwright Dario Fo as his party’s candidate for state president to succeed Napolitano whose seven-year mandate ends in Apri.
Yesterday was inevitably dominated by speculation as to what type of coalition government might emerge. Would it be the Grillo lot with the Democratic Party (PD)? Or could the PDs bring themselves to go into another national coalition government with Berlusconi’s People of Freedom (PDL) party, the type of coalition which supported technocrat Prime Minister Mario Monti from November 2011 until now?
Grillo was clear about this. His party will not ally itself with any force, he said, adding: “The whole system has collapsed. They will do what they did before, they’ll get together and they’ll keep the show on the road for a maximum of a year . . .”
While Berlusconi last night spoke of the need for “reflection” and PD leader Pierluigi Bersani seemed to reject the idea of an alliance with him, the markets offered their judgment. The “spread” on 10-year Italian government bonds rose 50 points to 333 while shares on the Milan bourse fell 4 per cent. Worse results could be on the way.