The political chaos in Italy has worsened as Beppe Grillo, the leader of the Five Star Movement, dismissed calls for pragmatism and said his protest party should form the next government.
The comedian-turned-activist, who commands 162 seats in the new parliament, said that the centre left and centre right could not expect his party to play a supporting role.
“If the PD [Democratic Party] and PDL [People of Freedom party] really want governability, they can always vote in the first Five Star Movement government,” he said. The comment, posted on Twitter by the firebrand, was seen as a direct response to criticism by some colleagues after he appeared to dismiss out of hand attempts by the PD leader, Pier Luigi Bersani, to hold out an olive branch.
Mr Bersani, despite winning the election, does not have enough senators to pass legislation through the upper house.
Some pundits have suggested Mr Grillo’s ingénue parliamentarians might be persuaded to work with the centre left on a limited programme of reforms in areas such as corruption, conflict of interests and cutting political spending.
The Five Star Movement’s criticism of waste in Italy’s political system was fuelled by news that €159m (£137m) in official electoral reimbursements will go to the country’s bickering political parties. Public contributions are used to partially fund political parties in Italy.
The PD will get €45m and the PDL is in line for €38m. Mr Grillo’s Five Star Movement would be entitled to €42m – but the rules require recipient parties to have an official statute which the fledgling party doesn’t have. It is, any case, committed to cutting the cost of politics.
However, Mr Grillo said: “If Bersani wants to abolish public contributions to the political parties, we’ll vote with him”.