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Parma mayor confirms 'unauthorized' meeting, rankling Grillo

Expelled 5-Star parliamentarians forming own group

04 March, 16:55
Parma mayor confirms 'unauthorized' meeting, rankling Grillo (ANSA) - Parma, March 4 - The mayor of Parma on Tuesday confirmed a meeting he organized would take place between him and other mayors from the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement after party leader Beppe Grillo chided him for doing so without his permission. "Yes, it's confirmed," said Federico Pizzarotti, referring to the March 15 meeting that includes M5S mayoral candidates. It is the second year Pizzarotti has organized the meeting, irking Grillo who posted on his blog - the fulcrum for his populist Internet-based movement - that it had not been authorized. The M5S has shown signs of splitting since four members were expelled last week for daring to criticise their leader's tirade against Premier Matteo Renzi during his government-formation talks. Grillo has been accused of authoritarian methods before and has not hesitated to eject followers for talking to the hated mainstream media.

But the latest incident has brought tensions within Italy's second-biggest political force to a head amid accusations of hypocrisy on his part.

In protest last Thursday, six M5S Senators presented their resignations as parliamentarians, siding with the ousted members in arguing that Grillo had betrayed the founding principles of the movement and had taken his high-handed methods one step too far.

On Tuesday, Senator Lorenzo Battista said he and his fellow expelled M5S parliamentarians were forming their own group.

"It will be more democratic than the M5S," he said. "There won't be any leaders and everyone can express their thoughts freely".

(photo: Federico Pizzarotti, left, and Beppe Grillo)