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Grillo wants probed PD undersecretaries' heads to roll

Demands Renzi allies quit as prized election bill nears floor

04 March, 16:28
Grillo wants probed PD undersecretaries' heads to roll (ANSA) - Rome, March 4 - Beppe Grillo, the head of the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S), called for the resignations of four more members of government Tuesday after an undersecretary stepped down Monday amid accusations he attempted to stop a damaging newspaper report. Senator Antonio Gentile, who was named transport and infrastructure undersecretary on Friday, bowed to calls to resign following reports he strong-armed local daily L'Ora di Calabria not to publish a piece about allegations his son was implicated in corruption in health-sector contracts.

Gentile is a member of the New Center Left (NCD) party, the junior partner in Premier Matteo Renzi's coalition government, headed by Interior Minister Angelino Alfano.

"Alfano set the example, Gentile quit as undersecretary.

This necessary act brings honor to the NCD," said Grillo, saying it was now the turn of Renzi's center-left Democratic Party (PD) to follow suit and oust PD government appointees whose records have recently been called into question. Culture Undersecretary Francesca Barracciu is under investigation for allegedly embezzling party funds. Transport Undersecretary Umberto Del Basso de Caro and Health Undersecretary Vito De Filippo are both under investigation for missing expense reports. Interior Undersecretary Filippo Bubbico is under investigation for abuse of office. A long series of corruption scandals have damaged the image of parties from all sides of Italy's political spectrum in recent years, making the row a potential threat to the ability of Renzi, the country's youngest premier at 39, to present himself as the face of change.

The controversy has also caused tension during a crucial test for the government, with a bill for a new election law set to reach the floor of the Lower House later Tuesday.

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