Rome

Grillo nixes Di Pietro alliance, M5S on talk shows

Comic distances self from IdV amid corruption allegations

Grillo nixes Di Pietro alliance, M5S on talk shows

Rome, November 6 - Beppe Grillo, the Italian comic and leader of the rising anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S), said Tuesday he will not ally with Antonio Di Pietro's embattled anti-graft Italy of Values (IdV) party, and he will ban elected members of his party from appearing on talk shows, days after drawing the ire of feminists for ridiculing a city councillor for making the party look bad on national television. In a "handbook" for elected officials published on his blog, Grillo said it was "strongly ill-advised" to appear on talk shows, and doing so would be strictly forbidden in the future. The move comes a few days after M5S member and Bologna Councillor Federica Salsi told Italian talk show Ballaro' that "the problem of democracy (within the M5S) exists". The following day, Grillo lashed out at Salsi on his blog, calling the talk show appearance "her G Spot". "It's the long-awaited 15 minutes of fame that Andy Warhol predicted," he added. The post was met with an onslaught of retorts from feminists, inclulding Salsi herself. "It's a disappointment," she said. "He's showed himself to be the victim of the culture of (former Italian premier) Silvio Berlusconi. It was truly demeaning. He's a sexist like the rest". Grillo has set up his Five Star Movement in stark opposition to the European Union and mainstream Italian politics, denouncing scandals that have plagued political parties, including Berlusconi's center-right People of Freedom party. Fresh off scoring the most votes in Sicily elections late last month, the M5S currently polls second in the run-up to general elections scheduled for April, when Premier Mario Monti's term at the helm of a technocratic government expires and the former European commissioner vows he will step down. The Democratic Party (PD) is currently polling around 27%, while Berlusconi's PdL has about 15%. Also on his blog Tuesday, in a post titled "Grillo for Dummies," the Italian comic said the M5S would not ally with Clean Hands magistrate Antonio Di Pietro or his embattled anti-graft Italy of Values (IdV) party. "Antonio Di Pietro has my friendship," said Grillo. "But the M5S will not ally with the IdV nor with anyone else. The M5S wants to replace the party system with direct democracy". His announcement came after Grillo's unexpected endorsement last week for Di Pietro as the next Italian president, after Giorgio Napolitano steps down next year. Grillo applauded the former anti-corruption magistrate as "the only parliamentarian to stand up to Berlusconi" over the years. But Di Pietro faces his own corruption accusations, which became national news after investigative program Report last week explored allegations into the possible misuse of party funds to build a large property portfolio. Di Pietro, who denies any wrongdoing, founded his party after spearheading the famous Clean Hands investigations into political corruption in the early 1990s, which exposed the Bribesville system, shaking Italian politics to its core. Claiming to be the victim of an organized smear campaign, Di Pietro faces suggestions of being no better than the crooks he set out to rein in while his party is showing signs of fraying. On Monday, the House whip of his party resigned after publicly comparing "the decline" of Di Pietro to that of Berlusconi, and accused him of knowingly "scrapping" the party. "He has betrayed his own history and in recent months has messed everything up," said Massimo Donadi.

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