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Grillo says new election law aimed at weakening M5S

Vows to win big at European Parliament elections or step down

23 January, 20:05
Grillo says new election law aimed at weakening M5S (By Christopher Livesay) (ANSA) - Rome, January 23 - Beppe Grillo, the firebrand leader of the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S), on Thursday accused ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi and Democratic Party (PD) leader Matteo Renzi of stitching up a proposal for much-needed electoral reform to keep his party out of parliament. The so-called Italicum - a bill to replace the despised old law that was largely to blame for recent political disarray in Italy and was shot down by the Constitutional Court last year - is the fruit of an agreement reached by the two leaders during a controversial meeting at PD headquarters in Rome on Saturday. "'These two' are drawing up the electoral law to block us, the crazy variable," Grillo said.

M5S's refusal to enter into any form of post-election alliance last spring after taking around 25% of the popular vote was partly responsible for creating the political deadlock that led to the formation of Enrico Letta's weak left-right government under pressure from President Giorgio Napolitano. The proposed new law, which was presented to parliament on Wednesday, would effectively see M5S ejected from parliament, Grillo claimed. Under the proposal, a coalition that comes first and obtains at least 35% of the votes would get a bonus that would grant it between 53% and 55% of the seats in parliament, with the maximum bonus being 18%. If no coalition obtains 35% or more of the vote, there would be a second round of voting between the top two alliances.

"Imagine the run-off ballot between us and the PD," he continued. "Who will Berlusconi tell people to vote for with all his televisions?," said Grillo of the media magnate, pointing the finger at the head of state and the premier for their alleged silence. "There's the silence of Napolitano, who doesn't speak out, of Letta who doesnt speak out. Because we are the danger". The House is due to begin examining the proposal on January 29.

Meanwhile Grillo has his sights set beyond Italy, hoping to shock the political establishment by becoming Italy's "largest party" in the European Parliament at elections in May. The professional comedian vowed Thursday to step down if his M5S failed to do so. "We're going to Europe and we will win the elections.

Either the Movement wins or loses. And if Italians decide they don't want us there, I'll make a different decision. If I'm wrong, I'll leave," said Grillo. "But if instead we win, we will change Italy and Europe". Amid painful austerity measures and high unemployment throughout Europe, the M5S is among a number of anti-euro parties in the 28-member union expected to win record votes in the upcoming elections.

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