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M5S leader Grillo to seek president's impeachment

Comedian accused of wanting to wreck institutions

26 December, 17:14
M5S leader Grillo to seek president's impeachment (ANSA) - Rome, December 26 - Beppe Grillo, the leader of the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, came under fire on Thursday after saying in a Christmas Day message that he will campaign for President Giorgio Napolitano to be impeached in January. Comedian-turned-politician Grillo has been highly critical of the way Napolitano has used his powers as head of State during a turbulent period for Italian politics.

Napolitano, 88, was instrumental in former premier Mario Monti taking the helm of an emergency technocrat in November 2011, when Silvio Berlusconi's third government collapsed with Italy looking in danger of suffering a Greek-style financial meltdown.

He also worked hard to create Premier Enrico Letta's left-right coalition government in April to end two months of deadlock following February's inconclusive general election.

Furthermore, Grillo has charged that the position of Napolitano, who was reluctantly re-elected president by parliament a week before Letta's government was sworn in, is no longer legitimate.

His argument is based on the fact that the Constitutional Court recently declared illegitimate the election law that voted in the current parliament. Grillo said that the traditional message the president gives to the national on New Year's Eve will be Napolitano's last as "a request for impeachment awaits him in January". "Impeachment is an act of love to enable him to enjoy a well-earned rest with his family and spend tranquil days with his old friends on the benches of Rome's Pincian Hill," Grillo said on his popular blog, which gave life to the M5S in 2009.

"He might even thank us. Merry Christmas Mr President".

The parties supporting Letta's government united in blasting Grillo's threat. "There is only one goal for Grillo's political strategy and it's clear - to wreck the institutions and turn Italy into a pile of rubble," said Roberto Speranza, the Lower House whip for Letta's centre-left Democratic Party.

"The continuous attacks on the president, who has been the only light in the country's moral and political storm, confirm that this strategy is sick".

There has been some speculation that Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right Forza Italia party, which last month pulled its support from Letta's executive, could vote in favour of Napolitano being impeached.

Berlusconi's lawmakers voted in favour of Napolitano, a former member of the Communist Party, becoming the first Italian president to be re-elected this year.

But the three-time premier and his party have been highly critical of him after he failed to grant Berlusconi a pardon after a tax-fraud conviction was upheld by the supreme court in August, making it definitive.

Napolitano said he could only consider a pardon if a formal request were made, something that Berlusconi, who has since been stripped of his seat in parliament because of the conviction, refused to do.