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Letta slams Grillo for 'inciting insubordination'

House speaker also criticizes M5S leader for 'sowing hatred'

11 December, 14:24
Letta slams Grillo for 'inciting insubordination' (ANSA) - Rome, December 11 - Italian Premier Enrico Letta on Wednesday blasted anti-establishment leader Beppe Grillo's call for police to stop protecting politicians and join anti-government, anti-tax and anti-austerity protests swelling across the country this week.

Grillo on Tuesday urged police to stop protecting politicians and join 'Forconi' (Pitchfork) protesters who caused chaos across Italy on Monday and Tuesday, blocking roads and railways and attacking tax-revenue agency offices.

In a number of locations on Monday, police took off their riot helmets after quelling protests in a gesture that many, including Grillo, interpreted as showing solidarity for demonstrators.

"I ask you not to protect these politicians any more," said the populist former comedian, whose 5-Star Movement (M5S) stormed to third place in February's general election in a huge protest vote.

Letta on Wednesday slammed Grillo's declarations, saying they "tear apart representative democracy and incite insubordination" in an address to parliament before a confidence vote in which he aims to get a mandate for reform after forming a smaller and more cohesive executive with the New Centre Right (NCD) party that broke with centre-right leader Silvio Berlusconi over the ex-premier's ouster from the Senate and resurrection of his first party, Forza Italia, which has moved into opposition. Letta stressed that the "loyalty" of Italy's police force to republican values is "unquestionable" and thanked security forces for their effective management of the protests.

The majority of House deputies rose to a standing ovation after Letta's scolding of Grillo, except for those belonging to the M5S.

House Speaker Laura Boldrini backed Letta's anti-Grillo stance while acknowledging the legitimacy of Forconi concerns.

"The protests cannot be hit, because they concern people under duress. The protest cannot be ignored, but heard. It is the duty of those with public responsibility to give them an answer," said Boldrini.

"What cannot be done, as (Nelson) Mandela has taught us, is to sow hatred. Oppositions are a sign of democracy, but you should not stir up, nor exploit the anger and discontent or fuel dangerous feelings," Boldrini said.

"We must refrain from making statements which only aim to increase social tension," Boldrini added.