Europe sweats as Italy gridlock deepens
By Dario Thuburn, AFPROME--Italy's political gridlock deepened as a spat between the main leftist party and a new anti-establishment movement hit prospects for a new government, after elections that have spooked Europe.
March 1, 2013, 12:26 am TWN
Comedian turned populist firebrand Beppe Grillo said his Five Star Movement (M5S) would not endorse the Democratic Party (PD), which won the most votes in the election earlier this week, but not enough to form a majority in parliament.
“The M5S is not going to give a vote of confidence to the Democratic Party or to anyone else,” Grillo, who has channeled the frustrations of austerity-weary Italians, wrote on his blog Wednesday.
The comment appeared to be a rejection of overtures from the PD, which on Tuesday suggested working with M5S on key measures such as slashing government costs and helping Italy's poorest through a grinding recession.
Grillo said the PD had made a series of “indecent proposals.”
PD leader Pier Luigi Bersani retorted with a statement saying: “If Grillo has something to say to me, including the insults, I want to hear it in parliament.”
Grillo, who has called for a referendum on the euro and won a quarter of the vote in parliament, suggested the PD could ally with Silvio Berlusconi's center-right coalition for a short-term before new elections.
'Clowns' and Confusion
Italian President Giorgio Napolitano cancelled planned talks with the man bidding to unseat German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Peer Steinbrueck, after he referred to both Berlusconi and Grillo as “clowns.”
Commenting on the inconclusive vote in Italy, Steinbrueck said late Tuesday he was “downright appalled that two clowns won” — a reference to the two political leaders' strong showing in the election.
Steinbrueck's spokesman Michael Donnermeyer confirmed to AFP that Napolitano had cancelled the meeting because of the comments.
Bersani has already said that the huge anti-austerity protest vote should be heeded beyond Italy's borders.
In his first speech following the vote, Bersani said on Tuesday: “The bell tolls also for Europe.”