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M5S and Northern League refuse president's invite

Populist groups snub Napolitano talks on electoral law

25 October, 16:32
M5S and Northern League refuse president's invite (ANSA) - Rome, October 25 - The anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S) and the populist Northern League party on Friday refused to meet Italian President Giorgio Napolitano who had invited them to the Quirinale Palace to discuss an electoral reform.

''We are not an absolute monarchy nor a presidential republic'', said Senate M5S whip Paola Taverna.

M5S founder Beppe Grillo called for Napolitano's impeachment on his blog, the movement's mouthpiece, angered by the president's decision to first meet on Thursday with government coalition partners - the center-left Democratic Party (PD) of Premier Enrico Letta and People of Freedom (PdL) party of ex-premier Berlusconi - and subsequently talk with opposition groups ''therefore excluding 9 million people'' who voted for the party, Grillo wrote.

The anti-immigration Northern League party also said Napolitano had made a ''grave mistake''.

The government wants to change the electoral law, known as ''porcellum'' or pigsty, which failed to produce a clear majority and forced longtime foes PD and PdL to form a grand coalition in April to make Letta's cabinet possible and end two months of political deadlock after February's inconclusive general election.

The fractious cabinet has so far been unable to reform the law and a new vote is likely to produce another inconclusive result.

Napolitano has set his face against calling fresh elections and has threatened to resign if he is forced to do so, angering Grillo who wants a new vote to take place as soon as possible with the current law.

The so-called porcellum, passed in 2005, does not allow the electorate to choose candidates directly, voting instead for a set list selected by party leaderships under a proportional system.

Northern League Deputy Senate Speaker Roberto Calderoli introduced the law.