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M5S move to impeach Napolitano amid parliament chaos

'Let it run its course' says president

30 January, 20:10
M5S move to impeach Napolitano amid parliament chaos (By Christopher Livesay) (ANSA) - Rome, January 30 - The anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S) submitted a petition to parliament on Thursday for the Italian president to be impeached, accusing Giorgio Napolitano of "attacking the Constitution". The M5S said Napolitano had breached the Constitution by failing to send back unconstitutional laws to parliament and abusing his power of pardon, among other things. The movement, led by commedian-turned-politician Beppe Grillo, also accused Napolitano of interfering in a Palermo trial into alleged negotiations between the State and the Mafia two decades ago. When asked if he was worried by the petition, the president replied that the bid should follow due process and "run its course".

Politicians on all sides rallied to his side.

Premier Enrico Letta's centre-left Democratic Party (PD), the biggest group in parliament, blasted the move, describing it as "an atrocious act aimed only a taking out the fundamental element of our democratic system," according to Roberto Speranza, the PD's House whip. Defence Minister Mario Mauro said he was "full of indignation as a citizen and as a member of parliament for the very serious and indecorous attacks on the head of State".

Fabrizio Cicchito of the New Centre Right (NCD) described the bid as "simply absurd". Senate Speaker Piero Grasso called the impeachment drive "absolutely fanciful," but added the "procedure will be applied.

I have submitted the request to the House Speaker. There the process as it is prescribed by law will take place". The 88-year-old statesman is serving an unprecedented second term as president after being re-elected last spring to help overcome the political deadlock resulting from inconclusive parliamentary elections in February. Grillo has long vowed to impeach the head of State, whom the M5S has increasingly blamed as of late for much of Italy's problems amid the fallout of the euro crisis. It accuses Napolitano of failing in his Constitutional role as an independent arbiter of Italy's political affairs and of favouring the established parties. On Wednesday, an M5S MP called him an "executioner" ('boia'), among the worst insults in the Italian language, sparking a political storm. On the same day it criticised Napolitano for his alleged failure to intervene over a controversial government decree providing for the revaluation of the share capital of the Bank of Italy that the party opposed on grounds it only benefited the nation's banks. The decree became the object of pushing and shoving on the House floor on Wednesday after Speaker Laura Boldrini used her so-called "guillotine" powers for the first time in history to interrupt a filibuster the M5S was staging so it could pass before it was timed it out.

The M5S accused Boldrini, of the PD, of acting unconstitutionally on the orders of Letta, and on Thursday said it intends to submit an appeal to the Constitutional Court against her in an effort to annul Thursday's vote. The appeal also aims to block a bill to reform Italy's electoral law. The bill was agreed to by Italy's biggest parties, the PD and the center-right Forza Italia of ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi. The M5S, which is the third-biggest party in parliament after taking around 25% of the popular vote, accuses them of using it to squeeze it out of politics.