The head of the protest movement that stunned Italy’s political establishment by snatching a quarter of the vote in last month’s general election has spelt out his Eurosceptic credentials, with comments that will send shivers up the spine of other eurozone members.
Former comic Beppe Grillo, whose Five Star Movement (5SM) looks likely to prove the kingmaker to the centre-left Democratic Party in a hung parliament, repeated his calls for a referendum on euro membership.
Telling the German business paper Handelsblatt that his Five Star Movement was “the French revolution – without the guillotine”, he added: “The northern European countries are only holding onto us until their banks have recouped their investments in Italian sovereign bonds. Then they’ll drop us like a hot potato.”
Italian political pundit Professor James Walston, at the American University in Rome, was less impressed by the latest Grillo comments. “Italy is not going to leave the euro and Grillo wouldn’t offer a referendum,” he said. “Grillo likes to follow the constitution only when it suits him.”
Many think it is Mr Grillo’s strong anti-austerity message that might give Brussels more to worry about. 5SM has campaigned on halting Berlin-backed spending cuts.
With no government yet formed, centre-left leader Pier Luigi Bersani will try to form a minority coalition.
A poll in La Repubblica showed that only 28 per cent of Italians favour fresh elections, while 67 per cent of respondents – including 73 per cent of 5SM voters – said the formation of a coalition government would be best for the country.