Italian Government 'History' as 'Virus' Spreads: Grillo
Traditional parties that make up Italy's coalition government will become history in less than four months, Beppe Grillo, the leader of the anti-establishment "Five Star Movement" told CNBC, likening the support for his movement to a fast-spreading "virus."
Italy, which has a history of short-lived governments, formed a coalition government in April after inconclusive elections in February led to a two month political impasse. During the deadlock, Grillo was courted by the major political parties to form a parliamentary alliance but refused to form a coalition with them.
After 87-year-old President Giorgio Napolitano was re-elected to the role as desperation over Italian politics increased, a coalition government was finally created, made up of the center-left bloc of the Democratic Party and its allies with some central roles, such as deputy prime minister, belonging to members of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom Party.
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"Traditional parties in Italy have become history in less than four months. The People of Freedom Party is all about Berlusconi, while the Democratic Party, well, we don't even know what it is anymore,"" Grillo told CNBC on Thursday."Italians need to understand we need to move on from Berlusconi. Berlusconi is just a promise, a marketing exercise, an advertisement. We need to rebuild this country from its roots," he added.
Using social media and touring Italy in a camper van to hold rallies and meet the Italian public, Grillo was able to easily connect to voters tired of the traditional political establishment. His "Five Star Movement", which has vowed to oust Italy's old guard of politicians, won one in four votes in elections in February - the largest ever vote share for a party entering their first election.
"Our movement is like a virus which is expanding exponentially. It's not controlled from above – it's a fast-moving movement,""Grillo said.
"I say we will win the next elections, and then we will create a transparent market made of good people," he added.
Italy's economy, the euro zone's third biggest, contracted by more than expected in the first three months of this year, extending the country's recession to seven straight quarters. The new government led by Prime Minister Enrico Letta is also grappling with high levels of unemployment and a need to boost the economy while keeping a check on public finances.
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Grillo denied that there had ever been a deal to form a government with Pier Luigi Bersani's center-left Democratic Party, a leader he had called a "dead man talking" before Bersani's ultimate resignation over disagreements within his party during the presidential elections.
"There never was a deal. They snubbed our movement. We are the first political force in the country," he said. "Bersani didn't come to me to ask me to create a joint government against Berlusconi. No, he said 'Give us some of your votes, some of your senators so that we can govern without you.' Then they used the trick of asking, 'Come on, let's get together, but they knew we would have said no because our statute states clearly we don't make alliances."