Grillo rebuffs Bersani advances
Silvio Berlusconi dismissed the idea of holding new elections and said he would consider an alliance with his rival Pier Luigi Bersani. Photograph: Remo Casilli/Reuters.
Italian populist leader Beppe Grillo has ruled out voting for any government led by the traditional parties after Italy's inconclusive election but said his Five Star Movement could back individual laws.
Democratic Party (PD) leader Pier Luigi Bersani, whose centre-left coalition took the most seats in parliament but failed to win a majority in the vote which ended on Monday, has put out cautious feelers towards Five Star, which benefited from a huge protest vote.
But Mr Grillo, who holds the balance in parliament, slammed the door in Mr Bersani's face and poured insults on him and other centre-left leaders on his blog. He accused Mr Bersani of making "indecent" proposals to his anti-establishment movement.
The fiery comic and blogger called Mr Bersani "a dead man talking," and political stalker, saying he should have resigned after falling badly short in the election which pollsters had expected the centre-left to win.
No party has enough seats to govern after the vote which threw Italy into political limbo and rattled global investors worried by the threat of a new euro zone crisis.
Mr Grillo said on Twitter that Five Star "will not give any vote of confidence in the Democratic Party (PD) or anybody else but will vote in the chamber for laws which reflect its programme".
He recalled a string of anti Five Star comments by Mr Bersani during the election campaign and added on his blog: "He has the arrogance to ask for our support."
As part of overtures yesterday that were seen as aimed at Mr Grillo, Mr Bersani laid down an agenda of measures mostly in line with the Five Star programme.
But he said any groups backing a centre-left government must support a vote of confidence - required when a new administration takes office.
He responded to Mr Grillo's insults only by saying he should come to the new parliament and "assume his responsibilities."
Separately, the European Commission insisted that Italy should press ahead with reforms to improve its economic growth potential after Italians voted to reject the austerity policies applied by outgoing prime minister Mario Monti.
"The crisis is not yet over and efforts must not be relaxed," European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso said in a joint statement with Mr Monti after the two met for talks in Brussels.
Mr Monti was widely credited with tightening public finances and restoring its international credibility after a debt crisis sent Italy's borrowing costs rocketing and brought the euro zone to the brink of collapse in 2011.
But he struggled to pass the kind of structural reforms needed to improve competitiveness and lay the foundations for a return to economic growth.
"President Barroso expressed his full confidence that Italy, as one of Europe's and the world's biggest economies, will ensure the conditions of political stability in the interest of Italy and Europe as a whole," said the joint statement from Mr Barroso and Mr Monti.
It said Italy was undergoing an ambitious reform process that, if fully implemented, would significantly raise its growth potential.
The two agreed that "continued and determined action at European and national levels is needed to ensure that the return of confidence into the euro area is sustained".
Mr Barroso said the commission was still committed to helping Italy and all other EU member states meet that challenge, which involved reform of public finances.