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M5S dissidents could face ejection

Four Senators criticised Grillo's rant during Renzi meeting

21 February, 15:35
M5S dissidents could face ejection (ANSA) - Rome, February 21 - Four Senators for the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S) risk ejection after criticising leader Beppe Grillo's volcanic conduct during talks with premier-designate Matteo Renzi this week. Comedian-com-politician Grillo erupted with an angry barrage and would not allow any else to speak without interrupting during government-formation "consultations" on Wednesday.

Grillo then went on a rant at a press conference following the meeting, saying he wanted to destroy the current political system and blasted the journalists present for helping uphold it. The M5S leader reluctantly went to the talks, after a poll of M5S members narrowly voted for the movement to take part.

On Thursday Grillo used his popular blog, which gave life to the Internet-based M5S in 2009, to name and shame four Senators who criticised his display - Lorenzo Battista, Fabrizio Bocchino, Francesco Campanella and Luis Alberto Orellana - accusing them of "friendly fire".

There are reports that M5S Senate whip Maurizio Santangelo has told the movement's lawmakers that a meeting will be held next week to decide on whether to eject the four.

The so-called dissidents have said they do not intend to quit the movement, arguing it should tolerate internal debate.

"If they held an assemble to eject us, it would be a major political mistake," Campanella said.

Orellana has been disowned by the M5S branch in the city of Pavia where he was elected, but the other three have not been censored in their home turf so far.

The M5S ejected two parliamentarians last year for expressing dissent.

Senator Adele Gambaro was thrown out in June after blaming Grillo for the party's poor showing at a round of local elections. Another Senator, Marino Mastrangeli, was voted out of the party in April for breaking a ban on appearing on television chat shows, which Grillo says are rigged to favour the established parties along much of the rest of the Italian media.

The M5S won around a quarter of the vote at last year's inconclusive general election.