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Napolitano calls on parties to reflect after local elections

Centre right suffers losses as protest vote grows

08 May, 14:15
Napolitano calls on parties to reflect after local elections

(See related story on local elections) (ANSA) - Rome, May 8 - President Giorgio Napolitano on Tuesday called on the nation's political parties to reflect after a big protest vote was registered in local elections for around 1,000 Italian towns and cities.

"Causes for reflection have emerged from the elections for the political parties and for the public about the relationship between the world of politics and the problems of governability at the local level," Napolitano told reporters.

The People of Freedom (PdL) party of former premier Silvio Berlusconi fared particularly badly while the grassroots Five Star movement of comedian Beppe Grillo, who is opposed to the current party system and has called for Italy to leave the euro, made big gains.

The outcome was in part seen as a backlash against the austerity of Premier Mario Monti's emergency government of technocrats.

The only one of the three big groups backing Monti's administration to see its support hold up was the centre-left Democratic Party (PD). The strong showing by Grillo's movement and a turnout that was around 6% down on the last equivalent vote was also seen as a sign of apathy and skepticism about the effectiveness of the whole political class.

A number of parties have been hit by corruption scandals recently and the political system's credibility has been undermined in the eyes of some by it needing to call in former European commissioner Monti last year to stop Italy's debt crisis spiralling out of control.

However, Napolitano, who recently defended the established parties against Grillo's so-called 'anti-politics', played down the importance of the 'boom' of votes registered by the Five Star movement.

"The only boom I remember is the (economic) one of the 1960s in Italy," he said. "I can't see any other booms".