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M5S MPs vote to eject 'dissents' who criticised Grillo

Comedian-politician launches online poll to ratify expulsions

26 February, 11:01
M5S MPs vote to eject 'dissents' who criticised Grillo (ANSA) - Rome, February 26 - Lawmakers from the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S) voted in the early hours of Wednesday to eject four 'dissident' Senators who criticised leader Beppe Grillo.

Comedian-turned-political Grillo subsequently launched an online vote of M5S supporters on whether to ratify the expulsions of the four for speaking against Grillo's volcanic conduct during talks with Premier Matteo Renzi last week.

"Now the Web will decide," Grillo wrote on his popular blog, which gave life to the Internet-based M5S in 2009.

"I hope it decides to confirm the verdict of the assembly (of M5S lawmakers). That way there'll be a fewer of us, but we'll be much more cohesive and stronger". He added that Senators Lorenzo Battista, Fabrizio Bocchino, Francesco Campanella and Luis Alberto Orellana were "no longer in sync with the Movement". The four were critical after Grillo erupted with an angry barrage and would not allow any else to speak without interrupting during government-formation "consultations" a week ago.

Grillo then went on a rant at a press conference following the meeting, saying he wanted to destroy the current political system and blasting the journalists present for helping uphold it.

The M5S leader reluctantly went to the talks, after a poll of M5S members narrowly voted for the movement to take part.

The dissidents refused to quit the movement, arguing it should tolerate internal debate.

The M5S ejected two parliamentarians last year for expressing dissent.

Senator Adele Gambaro was thrown out in June after blaming Grillo for the party's poor showing at a round of local elections.

Another Senator, Marino Mastrangeli, was voted out in April for breaking a ban on appearing on television chat shows, which Grillo says are rigged to favour the established parties along much of the rest of the Italian media.

The M5S won around a quarter of the vote at last year's inconclusive general election.