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M5S step up drive for Napolitano impeachment

Grillo MP calls president extreme insult, sparks political storm

28 January, 20:12
M5S step up drive for Napolitano impeachment (By Christopher Livesay) (ANSA) - Rome, January 28 - An MP from the 5-Star Movement (M5S) sparked a political firestorm Tuesday by calling President Giorgio Napolitano, a favorite target of the anti-establishment party, one of the worst insults in Italian, for not intervening in a controversial government decree, upping the group's drive to impeach the head of State. "The executioner Napolitano is endorsing a series of actions to sew the mouth shut of the opposition," said Giorgio Sorial, announcing a letter sent to the president.

Along with other opposition parties, the M5S, led by firebrand comedian Beppe Grillo, is working to filibuster a decree that aims to sell off 100 billion euros in central-bank gold reserves to help ease Italy's economic woes. The decree passed a House confidence vote Friday and must be voted on again by Wednesday in order to become definitive. House Speaker Laura Boldrini, of the center-left Democratic Party (PD), is ready to bring the bill to a vote, where it is likely to pass, before each MP has a chance to speak, thus forcing an end to the filibuster. In their letter to the president, the M5S says this violates the Constitution and accuses Boldrini of continuing to do so by taking direct orders from Premier Enrico Letta, also from the PD, and calls on Napolitano to intervene. The anti-establishment party has increasingly held Napolitano, the first president in history elected to a second term, responsible for the country's problems since the start of the euro crisis, vowing to impeach him. Premier Letta lashed out at the M5S for the slur against the president. "The M5S's shameful attack on Napolitano is a point of no return, extremist in nature and unacceptable for those who practice the principals of democracy," said Letta on Twitter. The new head of the center-left Democratic Party (PD) also leapt to Napolitano's defence. "Such behaviour is unbearable and a form of stupidity, more so even than verbal abuse," said Florence Mayor Matteo Renzi on Facebook, expressing his "solidarity" with the president.

But amid the chorus of outrage from various political parties, no apologies came from the M5S. One of its MPs even doubled down on the remark. "What should Giorgio Sorial apologize for?" said Manlio Di Stefano on Facebook. "Did it seem excessive to call King George an executioner? Well, we'll see about that. "An executioner is someone who kills a convict, and Napolitano is accused of killing someone or something...(in this case) democracy, the Constitution, the Italian people, and justice.

"If 'executioner' seems excessive to you, find an adjective that encapsulates all of these crimes against the Italian people".

In their campaign against what they deem a fundamentally corrupt government, the M5S sees Napolitano as the source of much of the country's ills. Their drive to impeach the 88-year-old comes from his alleged illegitimacy as president, having been elected to an unprecedented second seven-year term in April amid government gridlock. In his year-end address in December, Napolitano took a jab at his detractors in the M5S, vowing not to bow to "insults and threats".

"I'm careful to consider any objective and respectful criticisms or reservations about my work, but I will not be influenced by slanderous campaigns, insults and threats," he said.