Italy's maverick 5-Star Movement should cut ties with the anti-European Union UK Independence Party (UKIP) and consider hooking up with the Liberals in the European Parliament, 5-Star founder Beppe Grillo said on Sunday.
If the surprise switch goes ahead, it would see 5-Star enter mainstream European politics and move away from the anti-system fringes, a shift that might reassure other EU capitals that have grown uneasy about its rising popularity.
Writing on his blog, Grillo said his party was in talks with the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) and asked 5-Star members to back the initiative in an online ballot.
ALDE is headed by former Belgian prime minister Guy Verhofstadt. He is a keen European federalist and his strong, pro-EU views would seem at odds with the euroskeptic 5-Star, which has previously ridiculed the liberal leader.
Grillo said he had also approached the Greens about a possible tie-up, but was rebuffed, adding ALDE was the only group willing to discuss an accord with his movement.
The anti-establishment 5-Star won 17 seats in the last European election in 2014 and linked up with Nigel Farage's UKIP, which had 22 seats, to form the so-called Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD) party.